The state of Colorado is finally preparing to introduce sports gambling legislation. The work on this regulation could begin as soon as May if a recently introduced bill manages to gain momentum in the legislature. The final decision could be taken during a November vote by the citizens for sports gambling.
The newest sports betting bill was introduced by Republican Minority Leader Patrick Neville and Democratic House Majority Leader Alec Garnett last Thursday. If it is passed, it will include the sports betting question on the ballot in November. State residents will be asked if they support a 10% flat tax on net proceeds of regulated sports gambling operations. The question will be on the state ballot because the law mandates tax-related questions to be approved by the voters.
Existing casinos in the state will now have to apply for licenses, after which they will conduct online and mobile betting. Land-based casinos will also be allowed to provide betting services but with limited capabilities. Licensed operators will be allowed to determine their own bets and limits. The bill will allow bettors to place wagers on professional sports events as well as collegiate events. Colorado teams could be also be wagered on.
Licensed operators will pay 10% on annual net proceeds. Rep. Garnett believes that regulated betting could generate $5 million to $10 million in annual tax revenue by conservative estimates. On the higher end, the revenue figure is expected to plateau at $20 million. He noted that the proceeds could grow further if the market matures. He also said that most of the revenue would be utilized for protecting the state’s water resources.
About $130,000 will be allocated to organizations dealing with gambling addiction and problem gambling. Lawrence Wall, the president of Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado, welcomed the provision of spending this amount for supporting their work. However, he had doubts if digital betting is a good idea since providing online gambling to people on demand could get many bettors in trouble.
Rep. Garnett said that betting is already being held in the state illegally and they are only trying to bring the industry under legal supervision. The bill is not designed to expand gambling in the state. The bill will be tabled before the House Finance Committee on Monday. However, the bill will have to be passed before May 3, when this year’s legislative session ends. The Senate version of the bill is co-sponsored by Senators John Cooke and Kerry Donovan.