Colorado Voters To Have Final Say After Governor Signs Bill

By Jake Perper

June 3rd, 2019 - 8:30am

Colorado is continuing to close in on legalizing sports betting in the state.

On Wednesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed off on HB19-1327, a bill that would make sports gambling legal in the state. However, before anybody in Colorado can legally place a sports bet, votes must agree to it.

Originally introduced on April 18, HB19-1327 was passed through the state legislature, getting signatures from enough members in the House and Senate and from the governor to garner the proper support for placement on the ballot this year. The bill will authorize and tax sports betting refer under Tabor (a taxpayer bill of rights).

The Colorado Governor’s official website sums up HB19-1327:

“Concerning sports betting, and, in connection therewith, submitting to the registered electors of the state of Colorado a ballot measure authorizing the collection of a tax on the net proceeds of sports betting through licensed casinos, directing the revenues generated through collection of the sports betting tax to specified public purposes, including the state water plan through creation of the water plan implementation cash fund, and making an appropriation.”

Colorado Constitution Mandates Vote on Sports Betting

Last week, Gov. Polis signed this bill to decriminalize sports gambling in Colorado effective May 1, 2020. However, in November registered voters must pass it in the general election for the sports betting bill to go in effect.

According to the Colorado General Assembly website, this sports gambling venture will be regulated by the department of revenue and subject to supervision by existing gaming control commissions. Owners of the casinos in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City are currently licensed to conduct this limited gaming and gambling; licenses also will be kept at a minimum.

Colorado will collect a tax of 10 percent on the net proceeds of sports gambling activities to supply implementation of the state’s water plan and other public ventures.

On top of that, 6 percent of the tax income will be sent to the Hold Harmless Fund to alleviate the loss of revenue from counites, cities, universities and horse racing as a result of legal gambling.

Will Past Failure Repeat in Colorado?

There is no guarantee that voters will help further this bill and make it a law by next year. A casino gambling bill in the state failed a few years ago. That doesn’t mean this one will fail as well, but it is worth noting.

Colorado will now be just the second U.S. state to let the voters decide whether or not sports gambling should be legal. Arkansas did it first last November.

The Colorado General Assembly website states that HB19-1327 “appropriates $1,739,015 to the department of revenue for startup and initial operating costs in the 2019-20 state fiscal year.”

Colorado has 33 casinos up and running. Even with limited master licenses to be had, these casinos could work with some notable sportsbooks to launch betting options on-site and/or online through the mobile stage.

Seven states have legalized sports gambling in the year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on the industry outside of Nevada. Many more are going to start it up in 2019 and beyond.

Colorado is joining the conversation and it has made quick strides to be in it, but it is now up to the voters to make it happen. The past doesn’t make November’s vote a certainty. However, anything could take place in Colorado, a state that is evolving and making many social and legal changes over the past few years.
Written By
Jake Perper

Jake Perper covers gambling news for He has been a sports writer for a decade, covering every level of sports.

He’s currently the lead scout for Prep Hoops Florida based out of Tampa, Florida and has covered the Chicago Bears for the... Read More

Jake Perper covers gambling news for He has been a sports writer for a decade, covering every level of sports.

He’s currently the lead scout for Prep Hoops Florida...

.. Read More