Voters to consider gambling revenue to fund Colorado water projects

Colorado Sports Betting Water Conservation
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Colorado lawmakers are allowing state residents to decide whether sports betting revenue should be allocated toward funding water conservation and protection projects.

House Bill 1436 has been signed by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis as a piece of legislation that refers to a ballot issue related to the distribution of sports betting revenue in the state.

The issue, which will be decided at the statewide November 2024 election, concerns whether the Centennial State should keep all sports betting revenue to cover regulation costs, support responsible gaming, and offset losses to other wagering revenue recipients or use the revenue to improve water conservation efforts and protection projects.

“Water is Colorado’s most precious natural resource, because it powers everything we do, from agriculture to our outdoor recreation economy, which is why I am fighting tooth and nail to secure our state’s water future,” said Sen. Dylan Roberts. “Now, we’re giving Colorado voters an opportunity to join in the fight and allow sports betting revenue to fund critical water projects that will benefit communities across our state.”

In 2019, Colorado voters decided to allow the state to keep up to $29 million in sports betting revenue with excess proceeds refunded to casinos and online sportsbooks. HB 1436 will now allow voters to decide if the excess revenue will be transferred to the Water Plan Implementation Cash Fund, which also supports statewide recreation projects.

Colorado, which has yet to surpass $29 million in annual sports betting tax revenue, estimates profits to reach up to $31.8 million this fiscal year and $36.2 million by FY2026.

If voters decide against funding water conservation, excess revenue will go back to operators.

HB 1436 has garnered bipartisan support ahead of November’s vote. The bill, introduced in April, is sponsored by Republican Sen. Cleave Simpson and Democratic Rep. Julie McCluskie. It is also sponsored by Rep. Marc Catlin and Sen. Dylan Roberts.