A Squeaker of a Vote in Colorado on Sports Betting & Water Projects

The Story:

Several elections and referenda took place around the United States on Tuesday, November 5. One that provided a surprising amount of the night’s drama was Proposition DD in Colorado, a move both to legalize sports gambling and pay for water projects.


Proposition DD allows the operators of the state’s casinos to apply for permits to run sports books. In effect, it legalizes some sports gambling.

In return for the right to operate these books, the casinos will be taxed 10% of their proceeds. The idea is to promote legalization in much the same way that recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012, by arguing that legal industries pay taxes and that such revenue can be put to good use.

The smart money (so to speak) was in favor of the proposition’s easy passage. Nearly every newspaper in the state editorialized for it, and there was no organized opposition. Further, the dedicated use proposed for the sports bet tax revenue was an urgent one: the state’s water projects. The Centennial State is suffering from a $100 million annual shortfall in its water budget.

The Thing to Know:

At the time of writing, the outcome of the vote is still unknown. The “yea” votes are ahead of “nay,” but only 50.5% to 49.5% and there are still enough uncounted ballots to reverse that. The proposition ran into a strong voter sentiment against almost any approval of new taxes. [LATER EDIT: the proposition passed.]

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