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Colorado voters just legalized sports betting.
Colorado voters just legalized sports betting.
Manuel-F-O / iStock

AP: Colorado Sports Betting Ballot Initiative Passes

According to the Associated Press, Proposition DD has passed. Starting in May 2020, Coloradans will be able to place sports bets on mobile apps and at casinos in Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City.

Casino winnings will be taxed at 10 percent. The vast majority of this revenue will go toward the chronically underfunded state water plan, which was designed by Governor John Hickenlooper in 2015. Proponents of DD estimate that it will send anywhere between $5 million to $15 million to the water in the first few years of legal sports betting.

"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," says Alec Garnett, a Democratic state lawmaker who pushed the initiative.

Gary Wockner, an environmentalist who has for years railed against the state’s water plan, led the opposition to DD. Jeff Hunt, the head of the conservative Christian Centennial Institute, opposed the initiative on the grounds that sports betting is "sinful" and that gambling disproportionately harms the poor.

Opponents also focused on the confusing language of the ballot initiative, which begins with: "Shall state taxes be increased by twenty-nine million dollars annually...?"

Proponents amassed $2 million to promote DD, which was almost entirely donated by gaming interests. In the weeks before the election, the Yes on Prop DD campaign flooded local television with commercials promoting the initiative and clarifying that the tax would only be paid by casinos.

The initiative made it onto the ballot after receiving bipartisan support from lawmakers. Garnett, the majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives, decided to champion the sports betting initiative after the Supreme Court declared a ban that prevented states from legalizing sports betting unconstitutional in May 2018. Over a dozen states have since legalized sports betting.

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