Rev. Al Sharpton Calls for Halt to Colorado Sports Betting Licensing Over ‘Shady Hedge Funds’ Concerns

Posted on: March 18, 2020, 05:06h. 

Last updated on: March 18, 2020, 10:52h.

Activist Reverend Al Sharpton wants lawmakers in Colorado to put the state’s sports betting licensing process on hold while they consider the potential impact on casino workers of “unsavory out-of-state hedge funds who profit off of job loss.”

Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton’s concerns appear to be directed towards Twin River and its majority owner, Standard General. (Image: Getty)

Colorado residents narrowly voted to legalize sports betting last November, and the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (CLGCC) began issuing the first licenses last month in preparation for a May 1 launch. Revenues from the new endeavor will be diverted into the state’s underfunded water budget.

Several out-of-state companies have applied for licenses, attracted by the new market’s opportunities. But in a climate of anxiety about the economic impact of the coronavirus, Sharpton wants Governor Jared Polis’ administration to ensure that these new arrivals are prepared to look after casino workers if things get ugly.

‘Mass Firings, Shady Dealings’

In a letter sent this week to Gov. Polis, Speaker of the House Kathleen Becker, and members of the Colorado Gaming Commission, Sharpton said he has no problem with the legislation itself. But he reminds the letter’s recipients that casino industry workers, many of whom are “low-income and from communities of color,” are the most vulnerable to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

“Out-of-state hedge funds with long records of mass firings and shady dealings have come into the state to capitalize on mobile sports betting, and based on their track record — middle class workers and minorities will be the first to be negatively impacted,” asserts Sharpton in the letter.

“My job is to spot those problems before they occur and to speak up about them before it’s too late,” he added.

Specifically, Sharpton’s beef appears to be with Rhode Island-based Twin River, which acquired three casinos — the Golden Gates, Golden Gulch, and Mardi Gras — in Black Hawk, Colorado earlier this year, shortly after voters opted to legalize sports betting.

The company has deals in place with both DraftKings and FanDuel to offer sports betting once the market is up and running.

Focus on Soohyung Kim

But Sharpton claims that Twin River’s biggest shareholder has a reputation for investing in deals that have caused mass layoffs for workers – and “especially workers of color,” he writes.

As of April 1, 2019, New York-based based hedge fund manager Soohyung Kim owned 32 percent of Twin River through his hedge fund, Standard General, and was recently appointed chairman of the company. Sharpton does not believe employees at the three new casinos are safe in his hands.

“Whether it’s the 6,000 people who lost their jobs at RadioShack, or the 2,400 people who were fired at American Apparel by Kim’s mismanagement and disregard for working class people, Standard General does not seem like the type of company Colorado should automatically entrust with mobile sports gambling,” he asserts. reached out to Twin River for comment, but had not heard back at the time of publication.