What it would do
Passage of DD would legalize sports gambling in Colorado, impose taxes on the casinos that offer such betting, and devote the tax revenues to water projects.
Context and history
Gambling measures have been a regular fixture on Colorado ballots for decades, starting with approval of bingo in 1959, approval of the Colorado Lottery in 1980, and the 1990 vote that allowed casinos in the historic mountain towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. Along the way there have been an even larger number of unsuccessful gaming proposals on the ballot.
Proposition DD is the latest proposal in that long list. A May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed states to legalize sports betting, prompting a rush by states to tap into a lucrative but previously unregulated and untaxed activity. The 2019 legislature placed the measure on the November ballot because voter approval is required for the tax increase.
How it would work
If approved, you would be able to place bets on various sporting events through websites and mobile apps operated by Colorado casinos. Betting in casinos would be allowed if approved by voters in the three mountain gambling towns.
Betting would be allowed on professional, college, international, Olympic and some motor sports events. Bets would not be allowed on individual performances or events during a college game—you couldn’t bet on whether the Buffs’ quarterback will complete his next pass. And there would be no betting on high school sports.
The measure would impose a 10% tax on casinos’ sports betting net proceeds —the amount left after winners are paid off and federal taxes are deducted. Legislative analysts estimate the state would earn 47.5 cents on every $100 bet, generating about $16 million a year for the first five years. Revenues would be capped at $29 million a year.
The bulk of that money—about $15 million a year—would go toward funding the State Water Plan, a 2015 document that sets goals for future water policy, but which isn’t currently funded in any significant way. Small amounts of revenue would go to gambling addiction services and to a fund to compensate local governments if they lose tax revenue because other forms of gambling decline.
Who’s behind it
The sports gambling bill breezed through the legislature and is strongly backed by casino interests and some environmental groups. A variety of civic groups and trade associations also have endorsed DD.
Past efforts to expand gambling in Colorado have sparked ferocious campaign fights between the mountain casino companies and other gaming firms—primarily the Arapahoe Park Racetrack and off-track betting companies. The casinos always spent more campaign cash and defeated expansion proposals.
Arapahoe Park and off-track betting parlors won’t get a piece of the sports gambling action. But don’t expect a big fight this year. Arapahoe Park’s parent company is buying into some mountain casinos, indirectly giving it a piece of the action.
Supporters reportedly plan an ad campaign urging a yes vote.
Who opposes it
Some environmentalists oppose the measure because of differences with the water plan and fears that its implementation would lead to building large dams.
Pros and cons
As with Proposition CC, the benefits or drawbacks on DD are in the eye of the individual voter and largely depend on personal feelings about legalized gambling. The policy implications of water plan funding are hard to gauge, given that potential DD revenue is far too little on its own to pay for any large water projects.
Links to texts and advocate information
Full text of measure:
Search for “Amendments and Propositions on the 2019 Ballot” at sos.state.co.us.
At Ballotpedia.org, search for Colorado proposition DD
Yes on DD (supporting): https://yesondd.com
Coloradans for Climate Justice (opposed):