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There's A Lot Left To Do Before Sports Betting Begins In Colorado In May

The outcome of games at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium could be gambled on should Proposition DD pass this November.

Last November, Coloradans voted to legalize sports betting by passing Proposition DD.

Under the new law, sports betting will begin in May this year, and Coloradans over 21 will have the option of betting on mobile apps or at casinos.

The state is currently in the process of approving the first group of applicants for sports betting licenses, after making rules for sports betting licensure.

As of Friday, Jan. 31, there have been 19 applications for internet sports betting operators, 10 operator licenses to run brick and mortar sports books and 33 applications for master licenses, from all of the casinos in Colorado, submitted to the state.

Dan Hartman, director of the Colorado Division of Gaming, said the limit for how many licenses are given out depends on the number of retail casino licenses there are, which is currently 33.

“If another casino were to open, or something like that down the road, certainly they could get a master license and they could then look into sports betting,” said Hartman.

And there’s still a lot left to do before May.

"Obviously the finalization of the regulations and rules that will govern how people do it and how people operate, those companies operate in the system," said Hartman. "We have other folks coming online and in our current staffing that will be looking at those computerized systems, making sure that ... they’ve gone through laboratory testing, that we know that they are safe, secure."

Hartman described the need to visit data centers where bets will be processed and inspect the layouts and operations of brick and mortar locations for security.

"You’re only allowed to bet in Colorado, so there will be geolocation of people within Colorado, making sure that their geolocation works, so if they’re inside of Colorado they can make a bet, if they step outside, they can’t,” he said.

Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC
The South Platte River, one of Denver's main sources of drinking water, flows past Mile High Stadium.

Under Proposition DD, the state will tax 10% of casinos’ revenue from sports betting. The money generated will go toward the administrative costs of the new system, gambling addiction resources, and the state’s water plan. 

Luke Runyon explained what the Colorado Water Plan is: “The Water Plan was finalized in 2015. It was the result of this massive statewide effort to put down on paper a vision for the state when it comes to water. This was the first time that the state did something like this. And it set a few goals for the state of Colorado, it made thresholds for water conservation in cities and in certain kinds of industries. It also set a goal for the amount of water that was held in new reservoirs, new storage projects. And it tasked local groups with coming up with stream management plans for the vast majority of the state’s waterways, large and small.”

According to Runyon, the water plan would need $40 billion through 2050. Current projections estimate that the revenue from sports betting in the 2021 fiscal year will be between $1.5 and $1.7 million. This could mean that no money from sports betting would go towards the water plan in the first year.

These conversations are part of KUNC’s Colorado Edition for Feb. 5. You can find the full episode here.

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