The Colorado Senate moved sports betting a step closer to the November ballot Thursday by giving a preliminary approval to House Bill 1327.

That means the bill awaits final passage on Friday, the last day of the four-month legislative session.

The bill was introduced late  just two weeks ago  but it enjoys strong bipartisan support.

It authorizes betting if voters approve the 10 percent tax on it to support state water planning, as well as provide money to combat gambling addiction.

The purpose of the bill, sponsors contend, is to squeeze out the illegal black market for online gambling.

The bill got some pushback from two Republicans Thursday night.

"Why do you want to make people that much poorer?" asked Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, about the odds that always favor the house.

"To make this so convenient that it's right there on your phone in your possession all the time," he said of gambling apps. "I'm just not sure that's a good direction for the people of this state. What's next?"

Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, the former Weld County sheriff and a sponsor of the gambling bill, pushed back.

"It's already here," Cooke said of the black market. "Let's capitalize on it and protect our interests."

Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, offered an amendment to cap bets at $100, but it was voted down.

Under House Bill 1037, the games could only be offered by existing gaming licenses-holders: casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. Those outlets, however, could hire those who offer online wagering.

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.

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