Prop DD Squeaks By As Colorado Approves Sports Betting

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Last minute voters at the Denver Elections Division headquarters on Bannock Street in Denver.

Updated 2:37 p.m.

Shall state taxes be increased by $29 million 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 operations?

It took a while, but Coloradans finally have an answer. Yes.

A delay in counting nearly 180,000 outstanding ballots extended the wait to get the final answer. For most of the day, DD held a small lead until victory was declared in the afternoon. The Associated Press called the race at 2:33 p.m. MT.

DD will legalize sports betting in Colorado and create a 10 percent tax on casinos’ house winnings that would largely benefit Colorado’s Water Plan. Colorado's 33 casinos will be able to offer in-person and online wagering on professional, collegiate, motor and Olympic sports on May 1, 2020.

For the interested, the Colorado Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies play that night.

Backers of Prop DD were counting on Coloradans' previous willingness to approve "sin taxes." Casinos and FanDuel spent more than $2 million on their unopposed campaign and are barely squeaking by.

Bad ballot language could be a culprit, but it may also be an indication that Colorado isn't enamored with every vice. The state has a long history of taking a limited approach to gambling. Colorado casinos are sequestered in three mountain towns with low bet limits. And past casino expansion efforts aimed at Aurora have been rejected.

DD's passage represents a significant expansion. Even as casinos have downplayed how much money sports gambling could bring in. Mobile apps mean no requirement to step foot in a casino. It would be a good bet to assume that casinos will bombard Broncos games with ads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.