NewsCapitol Watch


Bill to legalize sports betting in Colorado clears House of Representatives

Posted at 12:31 PM, Apr 25, 2019
Sports betting
(AP Photo/John Locher)

DENVER – An effort to seek voter approval on allowing licensed casinos in Colorado the ability to take wagers on sporting events is halfway through the Colorado General Assembly.

The Colorado House voted 58-6-1 Wednesday to pass the bill, which would ask voters if they would approve decriminalizing sports betting as part of the November 2019 ballot.

As written, HB 19-1327 would ask voters to authorize “the collection of a tax on the net proceeds of sports betting through licensed casinos, directing the revenues generated through [the] collection of the sports betting tax to specific public purposes, including the state water plan through creation of the water plan implementation cash fund.”

This comes on the heels of last year’s Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association in which the justices ruled federal law prohibiting states from authorizing sports betting violated the tenth amendment Constitution of the United States.

Under the proposal, voters would be asked to approve a 10% tax on net proceeds from sports betting to “fund implementation of the state water plan and other public purposes.” If passed, the proposal would green light betting on pro and college sports in Cripple Creek, Blackhawk and Central City if entities that already have limited gambling licenses obtain a “master license” to allow sports betting.

While the bill would decriminalize sports betting, voters in those cities would still have to approve the measure in a municipal election. Under the proposal, that question could be asked in the November 2019 election.

It also would allow Internet sports betting, which can be done through a third party operator (like DraftKings, FanDuel etc.) that would be allowed anywhere in the state of Colorado. Internet sports betting would not be allowed outside of the Centennial state using apps or websites run by casinos in Colorado, and we’re told those third-party contractors will use geolocation tools to prevent bets from outside of state lines.

The bill would exclude proposition bets in college sports, high school sports, fantasy sports and video games not sanctioned by a sports governing body as an electronic competition. No member of the Colorado gaming commission, employees or their immediate families would be allowed to participate in limited gaming or sports betting.

Those younger than 21 would not be able to place a bet.

The state gaming commission would enforce the law and investigations into possible misconduct. Funding for those investigations would come from a newly-created sports betting fund that would fund those efforts.

Colorado’s regular legislative session is scheduled to end on May 3.