By Iqbal Johal
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton has pleaded with Colorado lawmakers to stop the state from rolling out mobile sports betting.
In a letter to Governor Jared Polis, Speaker of the House Kathleen Becker, and members of the Colorado Gaming Commission, Sharpton said legislation should be stopped due to the unknown impact of the coronavirus and that out-of-state businesses would benefit at the detriment of ethnic minorities.
Sports betting was legalised in Colorado last November through a referendum, making it legal for operators to offer internet – both mobile and desktop - and land-based sports wagering. State regulators are still on course to rollout sports betting on 1 May, as projected.
Sharpton used Rhode Island-based casino operator Twin Rivers – owned by Soohung Kim, who also owns three Colorado casinos – as an example of how businesses without the state’s interests at heart could cut jobs if sports betting was implemented.
He added: "Out-of-state hedge funds with long records of mass firings and shady dealings have come into the state to capitalise on mobile sports betting and, based on their track record, middle class workers and minorities will be the first to be negatively impacted.
"As this track record shows, if Mr. Kim, who already over-extended Twin River in his pursuit of potential mobile betting licenses, fails to make a profit, you can be sure it will be the workers of the Colorado casinos that suffer.
"Colorado needs to pay full attention to who is profiting off this new law to legalise online betting – otherwise, jobs will be lost."