The statewide ballot question that asks voters to legalize sports betting and allow the state to tax it to send millions of dollars to help manage Colorado’s water supply appears to have won a narrow victory.
Votes stood at 51.4% in favor and 48.6% opposed as of Nov. 7, two days after Election Day.
Amid the strain of continued population growth, Proposition DD asked for funding for various projects that could help the state meet more water demand.
Opponents, though, worried that legalizing sports betting online, in particular, could lead to many Coloradans losing money with the tap of a button on a smartphone.
By passing DD, voters have allowed sports betting of any amount by people 21 or older starting in May, including online, or on mobile sports betting platforms operated by Colorado casinos.
If voters in Black Hawk, Central City or Cripple Creek approve a separate ballot question to legalize sports betting in their cities, casinos could also offer in-person sports betting.
Under DD, the state can collect up to $29 million per year in sports betting revenue. Colorado would do that through a 10% tax on casinos’ net sports betting proceeds.
The vast majority of the money — $27 million each year — would go toward carrying out Colorado’s Water Plan. Projects under that plan could tackle issues such as water storage and supply, conservation and land use, agriculture, the environment, and recreation.
Supporters also said many Coloradans currently bet on sporting events, but because it’s illegal, they use black-market bookies and websites. Legalizing sports betting would create consumer protections, ensuring that sports bettors receive their winnings and don’t fall victim to fraud or abuse, supporters say.
Opponents said Prop DD puts no limits on the amount a person can bet, enabling people to lose a lot of money with just the touch of a button online. Not enough of the revenue would go toward gambling addiction services to help people who are harmed by the legalization, opponents say.
Supporters claimed victory at about 2:30 p.m. Nov. 6. in a news release.
“Black markets aren’t conservative and they aren’t good for Colorado," state House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, said in the release. "Bringing sports betting into the daylight, regulating it and leveraging it for the benefit of our water future is a common-sense approach. I’m glad the voters agreed.”
State Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, said that “as a native of the Western Slope and a rancher," she's happy to see the state invest in the future of its water.
"With the growth of the Front Range, and climate change shifting us to a more arid future, today marks an important step for the future of agriculture and the quality of life for all of us who call Colorado home,” Donovan said in the release.
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