Colorado bill progresses in Senate following House approval

30 April 2019

A sports betting bill introduced earlier in April has been voted through the Colorado’s House of Representatives and transferred to the Senate, but only has until May 3 to progress through the state legislature.

HB19-1327 was introduced on April 18, and quickly progressed through the House, passing at its third vote with 58 Representatives backing the bill and six voting against. The bill has now been transferred to the Senate, and passed by that chamber’s Finance and Appropriations Committees.

HB19-1327 establishes the Colorado Gaming Control Commission to regulate the sector, and imposes a 10% gross revenue tax on sports betting operators.

Should the bill pass through the Senate before the legislative session ends on Friday (May 3), this tax component will then need to be put to Colorado voters to be ratified. This could take place in November, when the state holds a general election.

While exact licence fees are not set out in the bill, it says that any licence or renewal fee should cover the Commission’s costs of processing each application and conducting background checks. This sum, it says, must not exceed $125,000 (£115,593/$133,871).

Three types of licences will be on offer, with the state’s 33 land-based casinos required to secure a master licence to operate sports betting, which will be valid for two years. With the master licence, the operator would be able to contract entities holding either of the other licences on offer; sports betting operator and internet sports betting operator licences.

Each master licensee may contract with one sports betting operator licence holder - covering land-based wagering - and one internet operator licensee. As with the master licence, these two licence types run for two years.

Revenue raised through the tax on sports betting will be deposited in the Sports Betting Fund, created through HB19-1327. This money will be used to pay off any money owed to the State General Fund to cover the Commission’s start-up costs, as well as covering its operating expenses.

A further 6% will be transferred to the Hold Harmless Fund, which will be used to mitigate any loss of revenue incurred by colleges, cities, counties or horse racing entities as a result of legal wagering. They will have to submit applications for these funds to the Commission, which will issue grants annually.

A further $130,000 will be allocated to the Office of Behavioural Health in the Colorado Department of Human Services to prevent and treat gambling related harm.

All remaining money will be used for the Colorado Water Plan Implementation Cash Fund, which funds grants to advance projects to protect rivers, ensure the population has access to clean water, and preserve the state’s agricultural heritage.

A full Senate vote on the bill is yet to be scheduled.

Image: ErgoSum88