Colorado to Vote on Boosting Water Conservation via Sports Betting Taxes


Beneath the scenic Colorado Rockies, a critical issue is brewing this November: a vote on whether to lift the state’s $29 million cap on sports betting taxes allocated to water projects. The stakes? Not just igniting the thriving sports betting industry but also propellor vital water conservation initiatives.

Setting the stage for this momentous decision was Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who inked into law the bipartisan House Bill 24-1436. This legislation directly impacts Colorado’s 10% tax rate on sports wagering operations, a portion of which shores up funds not just for operator oversight, but also for critical water projects. However, these water project funds have their tide restricted to a $29 million limit.

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Following on from the November 2020 voting approval of the Proposition DD, legalizing sports betting with revenues steered towards the state’s water projects, sports wagers got off the starting block the following year. This pioneering initiative has funneled over $65 million into Colorado’s treasury since its launch.

Over half a decade, this generated wealth has helped underpin vital projects, all aimed to secure sufficient water resources to buoy the state’s needs into 2050. If voters give the green light to the upcoming ballot measure, any collected sports wagering taxes surging above the existing $29 million limit will be directed to the Water Plan Implementation Cash Fund. Conversely, should the voters bypass this initiative, the overflows of this wealth will be refunded to gaming operators.

Notably, the 10% Colorado levy on sports betting stands as one of the country’s most appealing, dwarfed significantly by New York’s 51% and Pennsylvania’s towering 36%. Standing tall in the competitive landscape of states such as Oregon, New Mexico, and Washington, Colorado boasts an open, competitive sports wagering domain that has clearly reaped dividends for the state.

In fact, the first year of sports betting injected nearly five times more funding than initially expected into statewide water projects, according to the Colorado Gaming Association. It projects a bright future: as the sports gaming sector swells, so too will Colorado’s chances of securing its long-term water needs.

However, it’s worth noting that there hasn’t yet been a fiscal year where sports betting tax collections have flown over the $29 million cap that citizen’s will vote on lifting.

Bubbling beneath this dynamic sports betting industry is a pressing concern: Colorado’s exponentially growing water needs. The speedy growth of the state, one of the fastest-growing in the nation, inflates its long-term water necessities. The population has grown from approximately 4.43 million at the turn of the century to 5.84 million in 2022, and some analysts predict it might nearly double by 2060, creating an urgent need for robust water provisions.

So in the upcoming November vote, it’s not just gaming operators and sports betters who should pay heed — anyone invested in the future of Colorado’s water projects should feel called to action. This is about more than a game: it’s a momentous decision that ties together the future of water conservation and thriving sports entertainment industry.