This is no bluff. Odds are, legalized gambling is on the horizon in Colorado.

And that means a few more headaches for athletic director Rick George and the entire University of Colorado athletics department.

In a landmark ruling two weeks ago, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 26-year old rule that barred state-sanctioned sports gambling in all states not named Nevada.

The decision opened the door for legalized gambling across the nation, with officials from states like New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, among a handful of others, making near-immediate noise about generating fresh heaps of tax revenue via legalized gambling.

So far, no such decrees have echoed from the state capitol in Denver. Yet given the resounding success of using legalized marijuana to fatten state coffers, chances are it is only a matter of time before fans can readily plunk down wads of cash on the Broncos, Rockies, or, yes, even the Buffaloes. If and when a Colorado gambling bill passes, George expects CU to be ready for the fallout.

"It's a discussion point that we'll have as we go through the summer and get into the fall," George said. "Right now, there are no laws in our state. But we'll certainly look at it. We'll be very diligent and we'll have to be to make sure we protect the integrity of the competition. We need to do a great job of educating our student-athletes and our fans."


One of the inevitable ramifications of legalized gambling will be the added hurdles and loopholes collegiate athletes will have to dodge — particularly football and basketball players. As one example, CU men's basketball coach Tad Boyle has a constant concern over how the influence of agents will affect his players. Now he can add the potential influence of high-end gamblers to his list of concerns.

The Supreme Court voted down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act two weeks ago, clearing the way for legalized sports betting throughout the
The Supreme Court voted down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act two weeks ago, clearing the way for legalized sports betting throughout the nation. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images North America)

Additionally, state legislature may eventually make it easy for an 18 or 21-year old person to lay down money on his or her favorite team. Or perhaps even their own team. Hitting the ground running in terms of educating future student-athletes on the nuances of legalized gambling and the potential ramifications regarding NCAA eligibility will become a growing priority for George and his staff in the coming months.

"We've got to be very proactive in our messaging and our education with our student-athletes. And we'll do that," George said. "We'll make sure to ramp up the efforts even though I don't foresee anything in Colorado at least at the start of this year — and how long it will take a bill to pass and all that, we just don't know — but in the meantime if other states adopt that we want to educate our student-athletes, our staff, on this very subject.

"I don't know all the things that are going to go along with this. As we start to look at this, there will be a lot of conversations with peers around the country who may be a little more advanced than we are. Just trying to understand the issues and what we have to tackle. We certainly want to protect our student-athletes and we want to protect the integrity of the competitions."

Pat Rooney: or