BY FREDA MIKLIN
A new tax on legalized sports betting, awaiting voter approval in November, will be paid by casinos and used to fund the Colorado Water Plan (CWP). The ten percent tax will be levied on casinos’ net proceeds from sports betting activities. The plan, HB-1327 referred by the legislature and sponsored by Republicans and Democrats, is expected to bring up to $29 million in new, much needed support for the CWP.
The funding plan was modeled after the successful Great Outdoors Colorado program (GOCO) and is endorsed by Environmental Defense Fund, American Rivers, and Trout Unlimited. Locally, Proposition DD enjoys the support of Conservation Colorado, Colorado Contractors Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Dairy Farmers, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Greenway Foundation, Denver Metro Commercial Association of Realtors, and Colorado Chamber of Commerce. Current and former elected officials lending their support include former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and state Senators Jack Tate and Nancy Todd.
The Colorado Water Plan was finalized in 2015 after a 10-year effort by the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the state’s nine Basin Roundtables, along with hundreds of stakeholders and input from over 30,000 interested persons across the state. It identifies objectives, goals, and actions by which Colorado will address future statewide water needs. The CWP is overseen by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which will approve water project grants funded by the tax on casinos. Its website, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cowaterplan/about-colorados-water-plan says that the CWP allows implementation of the measurable objectives and critical actions “set forth to ensure that Colorado can meet its future water needs and continue to be a thriving state to work, play, and live.”
On May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that individual states could legalize sports betting. Since then, 19 states have passed laws permitting it. Colorado is one of 25 others that have taken steps toward legalization.
Once approved, legal sports betting in our state will be regulated by the Colorado Division of Gaming, part of the enforcement division of the Department of Revenue that has overseen legal gambling in Colorado since it was approved by voters in a Constitutional amendment in 1990. Legal sports bets will only be able to be placed from locations in Colorado and only through established casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. Limits will be set by individual gaming establishments.