The upcoming 2019 November election will see voters weighing in on two statewide ballot issues: Propositions CC and DD. Ark Valley Voice is providing an understanding of arguments both for and against the measures. With Proposition CC addressed in a previous article, another Colorado State measure making an appearance on the ballot is Proposition DD, the Legalization and Taxation of Sports Betting to Fund Water Projects and Obligations.

Under the Colorado Constitution, any new tax requires voter approval. In May of 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling to allow all states to legalize sports betting. Following the ruling, Colorado legislatures referred Proposition DD to the voters, asking to legalize and tax sports betting activity. The money collected from taxes and fee revenues from sports betting will be used to create a dedicated source of funding for the Colorado Water Plan and water-related obligations. The funds will also pay for the regulation of sports betting, and fund “hold-harmless fund” and gambling addiction services.

The state released the Colorado Water Plan in 2015 and laid out objectives, goals and actions for Colorado’s future statewide water needs. The types of projects that are eligible for funding are outlined by Colorado State law and implemented by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. They include water storage and supply, conservation and land use, engagement and innovation activities, agriculture, the environment and recreation.

In Colorado, the only cities that have legalized limited stakes gambling are Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. If Proposition DD passes, sports betting will become legal as of May 2020 across the state, for people over 21 and located in Colorado. If the measure is passed, sports betting will be available through online and mobile sports betting platforms operated by Colorado casinos.

Arguments in favor of Proposition DD provided in the Colorado Election Handbook (Colorado Blue Book) say:

  • Water is a scarce resource in Colorado, and demand will continue to increase as the state’s population grows. Colorado’s economy and way of life, from urban cities to agricultural communities, will suffer if the state cannot meet its water demands.
  • Many Coloradans bet on sporting events now, but because that activity is illegal, they use black-market bookies and websites, which are not subject to oversight or regulation. Legalizing sports betting in Colorado will create consumer protections for people who place sports bets, ensuring that they receive their winnings and do not fall victim to fraud or abuse.

Arguments against Proposition DD provided by the Blue Book explain:

  • Proposition DD puts no limits on the amount a person can bet on sports, making it easy to lose a lot of money with just the touch of a button on a smartphone. Of the millions in potential revenue, only $130,000 each year is dedicated to gambling addiction services, and this amount does not increase on pace with any increases in sports betting activity.
  • Specific water projects are not identified, and some may have potential unintended consequences for the environment and some communities. Additionally, Proposition DD will pay for only a portion of the Colorado Water Plan.