Over the weekend, a piece of legislation that could lead to the legalization of sports betting in Colorado was approved by the state’s House of Representatives.
The bill, HB19-1327, will now be sent to the Senate for consideration after the House voted 58 – 6 in favor of the bill.
Colorado’s legislative session is set to end on 3 May 2019 which gives the legislature until Friday to approve the bill.
If the bill does make it through the Senate before the session ends on Friday, a voter referendum will be held where Colorado’s citizens will determine whether to legalize sports betting.
A referendum must be held as Colorado is a Taxpayer Bill of Rights state, which means that any new tax rate must be approved by voters.
Although the bill does not set a date for a vote, the state could hold a vote in November when a general election is scheduled to take place.
What’s in the bill?
HB19-1327 would establish the Colorado Gaming Control Commission (CGCC), a new regulatory body charged with regulating the state’s sports betting industry.
The bill also proposes a 10% gross revenue tax for sports betting operators in the state.
Although the bill does not set any fixed licensing costs, it does state that any license or renewal fees must cover the regulator’s cost of processing the application and conducting background checks on companies. The bill states that this cost must not exceed $125,000.
Three different licenses will be available to operators in the state. These licenses include a master license, sports betting operator license and internet sports betting operator license.
Each of the state’s 33 casinos would be able to apply for a master license, which would last for a two-year period.
License holders in the state would be able to partner with one land-based operator and one online operator and launch an online or mobile sports betting platform.
State revenue generated through taxing sports betting would be set aside for the Sports Betting Fund which would be created by the bill. This will be put towards paying off money owed to the State General Fund in order to cover the startup costs and operating expenses of the CGCC.
The House also amended the bill to allocate 6% of tax revenue to the Hold Harmless Fund. This will be used to cover the loss of revenue as a result of legalized sports betting.
Late to the party
HB19-1327 was initially introduced on 18 April, just two weeks before state’s 2019 legislative session was scheduled to end. This made Colorado one of the last states to introduce sports betting legislation in 2019.
Last week, the bill was approved by the House in a landslide vote and will now head to the Senate for a hearing scheduled to take place on Tuesday.
Colorado is one of several other US states that are on the cusp of passing sports betting legislation. Earlier this month, lawmakers in Iowa, Montana and Indiana sent final versions of sports betting bills to their Governors for final approval.
If the bill is successful and Colorado’s residents approve sports betting, then the legislation would take effect from 1 May 2019.