Colorado voters could decide whether to pour more tax revenue into water projects

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Colorado voters may get the chance to decide if more tax revenue from sports betting will be funneled into water conservation projects.

Currently, there is a cap on tax from sports betting revenue at $29 million however House Bill 1436 is seeking to remove this cap.

Introduced by House Speaker Julie McCluskie, the bill has bipartisan support.

Tax money from sports betting goes into the Colorado Water Plan Implementation Fund and, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, nearly $43.1 million in sports betting tax revenue has been transferred to water projects.

“As a legislator representing the headwaters of the Colorado River, I know how critical it is to protect our water for environmental health, recreation and the Colorado way of life,” said McCluskie. “Our legislation lets voters decide if we can use extra revenue from Colorado’s sports betting tax to boost funding for critical water conservation projects. By protecting the lifeblood of Colorado, we can improve the health of our communities, environment and agricultural industry.”

Sports betting in Colorado was approved by voters in 2019 and a 10% tax rate is levied on the proceeds of sports betting. Some of the money is used to cover the cost of regulated betting and the rest, up to $29 million in total, is given to water projects.

In the event tax exceeds $29 million, the legislature decides how to refund the money under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

To date, tax revenue from sports betting hasn’t yet reached $29 million, however, tax revenue is expected to grow to up to $31.8 million in the current fiscal year and $36.2 million by 2025-26.

The bill unanimously passed out of the House Finance Committee and will next go to the House Appropriations Committee before it can be debated in the full House.

If the bill passes but the proposal is rejected by voters in November any tax revenue above $29 million would be returned to sports betting operators.

Colorado regulators take steps to combat illicit gambling

This week the Colorado Division of Gambling launched a campaign aimed at preventing illegal gambling by Colorado residents and visitors.

The “Play Legit. Gamble Only Where Legal” campaign is designed to educate bettors in Colorado about the risks of illicit wagering and the importance of betting with regulated online operators and land-based casinos.

“With many certified and legal gambling sites available, it’s never worth it to put yourself in danger,” said Colorado Division of Gaming Director Chris Schroder. “Together, let’s play by the rules and ensure that Colorado remains a safe and responsible gaming destination. By recognizing and preventing illegal gambling, we all win.”