Colorado sports betting bill heads to Governor after Senate approval

7 May 2019

Colorado has taken a step closer to legalising sports wagering after the state’s Senate voted to approve a bill, with Governor Jared Polis’s signature all that is required for the bill to come into law.

HB19-1327 passed the Senate without amendments by a vote of 27-8 on May 3, the day that Colorado’s 2019 legislative session had been due to conclude.

The bill was introduced on April 18 and has quickly passed through the state’s legislative progress. Last week, it passed a third vote in the Colorado House after 58 Representatives backed the bill and six voted against.

HB19-1327 establishes the Colorado Gaming Control Commission to regulate the sector, and imposes a 10% gross revenue tax on sports wagering operators. The measure would need to be put to voters in order to come into effect and this could take place at the state’s general election in November.

Exact licence fees are not set out in the bill, but it does state that any licence or renewal fee should cover the Commission’s costs of processing each application and conducting background checks. However, this must not exceed $125,000 (£95,480/€111,640).

Operators would be able to apply for three types of licences, with all 33 land-based casinos in Colorado requiring a master licence to operate sports betting, which will be valid for two years. With this licence, the operator would be able to contract entities holding either of the other licences; 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.

Revenue generated from taxing legal sports betting would be deposited in the Sports Betting Fund, created through HB19-1327 and 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% would be transferred to the Hold Harmless Fund and used to mitigate loss of revenue incurred by colleges, cities, counties or horse racing entities as a result of legal wagering.

In addition, $130,000 would be allocated to the Office of Behavioural Health in the Colorado Department of Human Services to prevent and treat gambling related harm, while the rest would be used for the Colorado Water Plan Implementation Cash Fund.

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