Colorado voters to decide how much gambling revenue goes to water conservation

May 23, 2024

Colorado voters will decide in November whether the state can spend all sports betting tax revenue to fund water conservation and protection projects.

Gov. Jared Polis on Monday signed HB-24-1436 — a bipartisan water conservation bill — into law, referring the ballot measure to voters.

Current Colorado law requires any tax gambling revenue above $29 million to be refunded to casinos and online sports betting entities. If approved, all tax revenue from gambling will be transferred to the state’s Water Plan Implementation Cash Fund, which supports water projects across the state.

In 2019, Colorado voters approved Proposition DD, allowing the state to keep and spend $29 million of sports betting tax revenue per year for water conservation efforts.

“We’re asking for a reaffirmed commitment from Colorado voters to fund our water conservation projects by keeping excess revenue from Colorado’s sports betting tax, said Speaker Julie McCluskey, D-Dillon.

Voters first approved legalized sports betting in Colorado in 2019. The law included a 10% tax on those conducting sports betting, which was designated for implementation of the state’s water plan and other public projects.

State officials’ initial projections for 2020-2021 were between $1.5 million and $1.7 million, according to the Colorado Gaming Association’s website, but reports indicate the gaming industry has generated more than $11.4 million for Colorado’s Water Conservation Board.

The first Colorado Water Plan was published in 2015. The 2023 Colorado Water Plan was adopted by the Colorado Water Conservation Board last January and analyzed the state’s water issues through 2050.

Photo courtesy of Water for Colorado

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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