What Coloradans Need to Know About the Sports Betting Referendum on November 5th

The fate of sports betting in Colorado rests in the hands of Coloradan voters. On November 5th, voters will have the opportunity to choose whether or not the state should authorize retail sportsbooks at casinos and mobile betting across the state.

Proposition DD on Sports Betting

Proposition DD will appear on the November 5th ballot and ask voters if sports betting should be legalized and tax revenue from the activity used to fund Colorado’s Water Plan.

The question being asked is simple, but the wording of the ballot measure seems almost purposely designed to be as confusing as possible. The measure mentions raising taxes before explaining in a roundabout way that the new tax revenue will come from legalizing and taxing sports betting.

The measure will read as follows:

Shall state taxes be increased by twenty-nine million dollars annually to fund the state water projects and commitments and to pay for the regulation of sports betting through licensed casinos by authorizing a tax on sports betting of ten percent of net sports betting proceeds, and to impose the tax on persons licensed to conduct sports betting?

The phrasing of the referendum is likely to confuse voters who are not clued in on what is actually being asked. It is easy to imagine many voters seeing the words “shall state taxes be increased by twenty-nine million dollars annually” and instinctively voting no without bothering to read the rest of the measure.

A survey conducted by BettingUSA shortly after the referendum was announced found just 29% of voting-age Coloradans would have voted in favor of the measure at the time. However, Rep. Alec Garnett says recent polls show greater support for legalization.

What a Yes Vote Means

A YES vote will legalize in-person and online betting across the state for people 21 or older.

Casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek will be authorized to launch retail sportsbooks. Additionally, each casino will have the option to partner with a third-party provider such as FanDuel or DraftKings to launch a mobile sportsbook for state-wide wagering.

Confusing language aside, Proposition DD will not increase any taxes you already pay if successful. It will instead bring sports betting into the light of regulation and apply a tax to sports betting operators.

If passed, Proposition DD will:

  • Authorize casinos to offer in-person and mobile betting
  • Apply a 10% tax rate to the sports betting industry
  • Establish rules and regulations to govern the conduct of sports betting through the implementation of HB 1327
  • Establish a minimum age of 21 to bet on sports

Where the Tax Money Goes

If voters approve Proposition DD, the state will be allowed to collect up to $29 million per year in revenue generated by legal sports betting.

That tax revenue will be used to fund Colorado water projects, other water-related obligations, the regulation of sports betting and responsible gambling initiatives.

The majority of the money raised by sports betting is earmarked for the Colorado Water Plan, which intends to conserve and protect water in Colorado over coming decades.

Tax revenue generated by legal sports betting will be distributed as follows:

  • $130,000 per year for gambling addiction services
  • 6% of tax revenue is earmarked to reimburse entities that receive tax revenue from other forms of gambling (such as cities and counties that host casinos) if they can prove the legalization of sports betting has reduced the amount of tax revenue they receive
  • The remainder will fund the Colorado Water Plan and other water-related obligations

What a No Vote Means

A NO vote will change nothing. Sports betting will remain illegal in Colorado.

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