The benefits of legalized sports betting in Colorado have started to appear.
At its monthly meeting on Thursday, the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (CLGCC) approved the distribution of tax revenues collected in the first full fiscal year of sports betting in the state. The designated beneficiaries, including the Colorado Water Plan, received a total of $8.5 million.
According to a news release from the Colorado Division of Gaming (DOG), the Water Implementation Cash Fund got $7.9 million. That is five times higher than was originally estimated. The release adds that a required 6% was disbursed to the Hold Harmless Fund that totaled $488,782.
The Office of Behavioral Health received its annual distribution of $130,000. Of that, Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners gets $30,000 to operate a problem gambling hotline. The other $100,000 is appropriated for problem gambling services.
The release notes that the DOG transferred $1.5 million in March. That went to repay the state’s general fund for the initial investment to set up the legalized sports betting market.
But the biggest news is the money heading to the Colorado Water Plan.
Water wins from Colorado sports betting
Step outside on any given day and you can see, and feel in your lungs, why water conservation is so vital. The talk of ongoing drought and wildfires in the West isn’t slowing down.
One of the main reasons Proposition DD was passed by Colorado voters in November of 2019 was the money that would go to the state’s water plan. One of the stipulations was a 10% sports betting tax that benefits Colorado water.
Since the launch of legalized sports betting in Colorado, just over $3 billion has been wagered in the state, as will be shown when the August revenue is released in the next week or so.
And since this is the first fiscal year with legalized sports betting, this is just the start of what the Colorado Water Conservation Plan will receive. When you add in the Colorado Water Wins campaign that started in March, it’s clear that legalized sports betting is already paying off. The campaign aims to make the benefits of sports betting top of mind for Colorado.
There are currently 26 sports betting apps and 17 retail sportsbooks available in Colorado.
As Dan Hartman, director for the Division of Gaming, said in the release:
“We are constantly amazed and impressed with the continued growth we see in our state and how Coloradans have embraced this new form of legalized entertainment. The enabling legislation, the vote of the people, the industry relationships with operators, and the enthusiasm of bettors have all contributed to our success in creating a healthy, competitive Colorado market. We are happy [about] how these results translate into wins for the citizens of Colorado.”
Just the start of what Colorado water will receive
If you’re curious, the $8.5 million in sports betting tax revenue is collected from the net sports betting proceeds. As the release points out, the sports betting tax structure was authorized in HB 19-1327 that enabled the legislation and established the net sports betting proceeds. That number comes from the total amount of wagers placed, minus free bets, less all payments to players and all federal excise taxes.
Given that Colorado sports betting launched amid a global pandemic and no major U.S. sports being played, this is just the start for this market and for the Colorado Water Plan.