Colorado lawmakers consider sports gambling bill

DENVER -- A new bill introduced to the Colorado House this week which would legalize sports gambling at casinos.

“We know that people are betting illegally across the state of Colorado. If it’s already happening, it’s better to treat consumers fairly and to put it into a regulated marketplace,” said House Majority Leader Alec Garnett, who helped introduce the bill.

You wouldn’t have to go far to place your bet, though, because casinos would have the ability to develop a sports gambling app that you could access right from a smartphone.

They could also set up an online sports book.

“A casino could contract with an online sports operator — like Draft Kings or Fan Duel — and they could provide an application for consumers across the state to use,” Garnett said.

That’s a concern for groups like the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado.

“Not making clients go up into the casinos -- and placing it right into every household throughout Colorado -- does provide that access point. It’s only a matter of time where someone might get into trouble,” said PGCC president Lawrence Wall.

But Garnett says that’s already happening illegally.

“The fingertip app structure already exists. That is the black market. We aren’t really expanding the marketplace — we’re just going to regulate that marketplace," he said.

Casinos would be charged a 10 percent state tax on their net proceeds each year, starting in May 2020.

“On the low end, you’ll see the state generate between $5-10 million in tax revenue. And on the higher end, as the market continues to mature, I think it plateaus around $20 million,” Garnett told FOX31. “It is a sustainable resource that will go toward conservation and protecting our water, which is really important to both rural and urban parts of the state.”

Wall told FOX31 he was happy to see $130,000 of that revenue also being designated for resources dealing with gambling addiction, like the Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners hotline.

He would also like to see more safeguards in place, however, as casinos develop smartphone apps.

“Do we have Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado [on the app], or a help line when someone is frequently gambling? What about some education or awareness for those college kids — or signs or symptoms of a potential disorder?” Wall said.

The bill will go before the House Finance Committee on Monday.

If it passes, voters would have the final say on the November ballot -- being asked to decide whether the state will take a 10 percent of net proceeds from legal sports betting.

We’ll keep you posted on what happens next.

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