An effort to send Colorado sports betting to the ballot this fall is zipping through the state legislature this month.
Just two weeks after being introduced, H 1327 cleared the House last week and appears on its way to the Senate floor. The bill passed through the Senate’s Finance and Appropriations committees in the past couple of days.
Only one major amendment arose in committee. A “hold-harmless” fund equal to 6 percent of the sports betting tax collection will be set aside to offset any potential hardships from the advent of wagering.
Colorado’s legislature is set to adjourn by the end of the week. These fast moves are standard operating procedure for a bill that appears this late in a session.
CO sports betting a multi-step process
Most important to note is that the bill does not legalize CO sports betting. Because Colorado operates under a voter-approved Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), any new tax must be approved at the ballot box.
That means legislators must send Colorado sports betting in front of voters for approval. The timeline might be short, though, as legal sports betting could be added to the November ballot.
A positive vote could create CO sports wagering by May 2020. The Centennial State plays host to all four major professional sports leagues and could soon feature mobile wagering.
The Colorado sports betting bill
Legal Sports Report provided the first look at the Colorado sports betting bill earlier in April.
The bill would develop three categories of licenses:
- Master license
- Sports betting operator
- Internet sports betting operator
Each of Colorado’s 33 casinos could submit and application for a master license. How much that license would cost remains undetermined, but they would be good for a period of two years.
Each licensee could partner with one land-based operator and one internet operator (or use the same partner for both) and deploy one online/mobile platform.
The tax rate proposed is a reasonable 10 percent of sports betting revenue. Only esports and high school sports appear to be banned.
Gambling in Colorado is limited to three mountain towns: Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. Voters rejected multiple attempts to expand, including a 70 percent decision against racetrack casinos in 2014.