Colorado Sports Betting Generates Nearly $8M for State Water Plan in FY21

Posted on: September 23, 2021, 10:56h. 

Last updated on: September 24, 2021, 08:49h.

Colorado gaming officials on Thursday announced that the first full year of legal sports betting in the state produced nearly $8 million in tax revenue. That will help the state implement its water resiliency plan.

Colorado sports betting
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has gotten the Denver Broncos off to a successful 2-0 start to the 2021 NFL season. Just like the Broncos, Colorado officials say sports betting in the state enjoyed a strong start, as tax revenue from the activity provided nearly $8 million in funding for the state’s water plan. (Image: NFL.com)

The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission approved the allocation at its meeting Thursday.

In all, the state received nearly $8.6 million in revenue, discounting $1.6 million state gaming officials returned to the general fund in March to reimburse for start-up costs covered to launch wagering in May 2020.

Besides sending more than $7.9 million to the Colorado Water Plan, nearly $490,000 was earmarked for a casino fund. That money is set aside to cover any retail casino revenue losses attributable to online sports betting.

The remainder, $130,000, was allocated to the Office of Behavioral Health for problem gaming services. Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners will receive $30,000 of that to operate a problem gaming hotline.

Colorado Tops $3 Billion in Handle in 16 Months

The Colorado Water Plan was established in November 2015 to help ensure the state’s long-term water needs would be met amid concerns about climate change and other challenges the state faces. One of those key issues is the Continental Divide, which runs along the Rocky Mountains through the state. The Divide causes 80 percent of water to flow to the west of the mountains. But 90 percent of the state’s population lives on the eastern side.

To help fund the plan, state lawmakers passed an initiative during the 2019 session that put a referendum on the ballot that November. Voters approved the measure by a narrow 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent tally, a margin of roughly 20,000 votes.

Since launching in May 2020, the state has approved licenses for 17 retail sportsbooks at casinos and 25 mobile applications. Bettors at the licensed facilities have wagered more than $3 billion on such sports as football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and table tennis.

Despite the water plan funding representing less than 1 percent of the actual bets placed, state officials are still pleased with the results so far.

We are constantly amazed and impressed with the continued growth we see in our state and how Coloradans have embraced this new form of legalized entertainment,” said Dan Hartman, director of the Colorado Division of Gaming in a statement “The enabling legislation, the vote of the people, the industry relationships with operators, and the enthusiasm of bettors have all contributed to our success in creating a healthy, competitive Colorado market. We are happy how these results translate into wins for the citizens of Colorado.”

The state taxes net revenues at 10 percent. But that levy comes after operators deduct free bets and the federal excise tax.

NFL Kickoff Jump Starts Bettors

According to a Denver Post article Thursday, state gaming officials were excited to see the football season kick off.

Hartman told the paper that the NFL’s opening weekend of 16 games generated about $44 million in handle. Those games alone would equate to about a quarter of the $181.3 million handle the state reported for the entire month of July.

Keep in mind, while handle may be a good way to measure interest, it won’t really indicate how much revenue Colorado will receive. That’s because it’s unknown how many bettors won, Also, with it being the opening weekend and a few sportsbooks, like MaximBet and Tipico, having just launched, many bettors will likely take advantage of free wagers and sign-up bonuses that will further reduce the books’ tax liability.