Sports Betting States
Caption +

Wayne Parry / AP

Wayne Parry / AP Gamblers place bets on sports events at the FanDuel sports book at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, N.J., on July 14, 2018, the day it opened.

Show MoreShow Less

With just two weeks left in the Colorado Legislature’s session, a bill asking voters to authorize sports gambling in the state has been introduced and is headed to a House committee.

House Bill 1327 would place a measure on the November ballot allowing sports wagers and setting a 10% tax on bets “through licensed casinos.”

The windfall would support “specified” purposes that aren’t specified in the bill, other than the state’s water plan, which was adopted to address population growth and dwindling supply by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration.

The state would limit the licenses to existing casino operators in Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City, but not racetracks. The casinos there were allowed by voters in 1991 when they passed Amendment 50 with a nearly 59 percent majority.

Sports betting would be regulated by the state Department of Revenue and the Gaming Control Commission.

The bill was introduced Thursday evening, giving it two weeks to get through the General Assembly and onto Gov. Jared Polis’ desk by the May 3 adjournment.

The House Finance Committee likely will hear the bill at its next meeting Monday afternoon.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in early 2018 cleared the way for the states to allow sports wagering if they wanted.

The Colorado measure has bipartisan muscle. It’s sponsored in the House by Majority Leader Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock.

In the Senate, it’s sponsored by Sens. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and John Cooke, R-Greeley. Cooke is a former Weld County sheriff.

The bill Thursday evening did not yet have a “fiscal note” from legislative analysts figuring its cost or financial benefit.

The Colorado Legislature has a mixed record on gambling. Last year it put adult arcades out of business, because they deemed the games to be betting.

In 2016, then-House Speaker Crisanta Duran helped pass a bill to legalize fantasy sports leagues that offer cash prizes. Garnett and Cooke were co-sponsors on that bill, House Bill 1404, as well.

Voters amended the state Constitution in 1992 to create the Colorado Lottery, with the proceeds to support public land through the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund, as well as Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Building Excellent Schools Today program.

In 2002, the Legislature reauthorized the lottery to 2024. Last year, the General Assembly extended the lottery to 2049 by a 30-5 in the Senate and 49-16 in the House.

Contact Joey Bunch at or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

Contact Joey Bunch at or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

Load comments