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Colorado Voters Legalize Sports Betting in Narrow Vote


Proposition DD Gets Thumbs Up from Voters

Voters in Colorado had to answer the following question on their ballot: "Shall state taxes be increased by $29 million annually to fund 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 or net sports betting proceeds, and to impose a tax on persons licensed to conduct sports betting operations?"

Those that were opposed to Proposition DD worried that the language on the ballot was too vague. Apparently voters did not agree as Proposition DD has passed making Colorado the 19th state to legalize sports betting.


State Water Plan Needs the Tax Revenue

In the weeks leading up to the election, those in favor of Proposition DD flooded local television in Colorado with commercials promoting the initiative and clarifying that taxes would only be paid by casinos.

Casino winnings will be taxed at 10% with the majority of that revenue going toward the state water plan. Those who have supported the bill estimate that it will send between $5 and $15 million to the water plan in the first few years after legalization. The state water plan, designed by Governor John Hickenlooper in 2015 has been severely underfunded from the start.

"DD is an important down payment to get the Colorado Water Plan funded, and the organization will work closely to ensure that the funds are used appropriately," said Josh Kuhn at Conservation Colorado. "The money will go directly towards benefiting Colorado's lakes, streams and rivers," said Kuhn. The state plans to have the revenue generated from sports betting taxes put into an account that would be managed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.


Prop DD Gets Narrow Victory

Although Prop DD passed, it was hardly straightforward. On Election Night, the results were too close to call. At one brief point, it was locked in a 50-50 tie but by yesterday morning, it had a growing lead of 1 percent point as the final votes came in. Most of Colorado's 64 counties rejected the measure, but the most populous areas of the state like, Denver, Adams, Jefferson, Arapahoe and Douglas pushed the initiative forward.

Proposition DD had received bipartisan support from Colorado lawmakers which is how it made it onto the ballot. "I'm proud of the diverse coalition that came together to pass DD. It's a win for Colorado's water and will help shut down a black unregulated market," said Alec Garnett, a Democrat state lawmaker who pushed the initiative.


Supporters of Prop DD Spent Millions Compared Those Not in Favor

The Yes on Proposition DD committee raised $2.5 million, mostly through casino and gambling interests, including $1 million from FanDuel and $500K from DraftKings. The money was spent on TV, radio and digital ads.

Unfortunately for faith based and environmental opposition, they did not have the type of financial support that would have helped them get their message out to voters. The biggest contributors on the opposition side was Coloradans for Climate Justice, who spent less $5K on the election.