Proposition DD On The 2019 Colorado Ballot: Legalizing Sports Betting

Ben Markus/CPR News
The Monarch Casino in Black Hawk, on Tuesday Oct. 8 2019.

Proposition DD asks voters to legalize sports betting in Colorado and create a 10 percent tax on casinos’ house winnings that would largely benefit Colorado’s Water Plan.

Voter Resources Quick Guide

Here’s the language you’ll see on the ballot:

Shall state taxes be increased by twenty-nine million dollars annually to fund state water projects and commitments and to pay for the regulation of sports betting through licensed casinos by authorizing a tax on sports betting of ten percent of net sports betting proceeds, and to impose the tax on persons licensed to conduct sports betting?

How would it work?

If voters approve DD, the state legislature would be authorized to legalize sports betting and to create the 10 percent tax on casino house winnings. 

All new taxes must go to voters for approval in Colorado, per the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Because voters rarely decide to raise taxes on themselves, lawmakers have successfully relied on so-called “sin taxes” (such as marijuana and gambling) to pass statewide votes. 

The revenue generated from that new tax would benefit the state Water Plan, as well as fund expenses created by regulating and administering sports betting. The legislature estimates that the state could collect up to $29 million a year in sports betting revenue.

Who’s for it and who’s against it?

Environmentalists and water officials have banded together with casino owners and sports betting companies to support the measure.

James Eklund, the state’s former top water official who helped draft the Water Plan, and the Environmental Defense Fund have both voiced support for Proposition DD, in part because it is the most viable way to raise the $3 billion in the Water Plan that still needs a revenue source.

HB19-1327, the bill that created the legal framework and authorized the November vote on Proposition DD, drew bipartisan support and Gov. Jared Polis’ signature.

Colorado’s casino owners — including David Farahi, chief operating officer of Monarch Casino in Black Hawk — also support the ballot measure. The much-desired profits from sports betting would outweigh the expenses from the tax.

FanDuel, a bookmaking and fantasy sports site, contributed $250,000 to the pro-Proposition DD campaign. FanDuel would be able to contract with casinos if the measure passes.

DD supporters have poured $904,493 into the campaign.

The closest thing to an organized opponent to Proposition DD is Jeff Hunt, the director of the socially conservative Centennial Institute. Gambling is not only a sin, Hunt said, but also hits poor people the hardest. However, Hunt has no money to fight the measure.

Another opponent is Gary Wockner of Coloradans for Climate Justice, who doesn’t like that Proposition DD isn’t specific on what parts of the water plan it would fund.