DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado could have legal sports betting as early as May of 2020, before the NBA finals and Stanley Cup. Despite no organized opposition and wide bipartisan support, Proposition DD passed by just 1 point. The election was one of the closest in recent state history.
“My mom almost voted no and I had to call her and talk to her. My dad fortunately helped me in convincing her,” said Peter Jennings, a legend in the fantasy sports world. “I was sweating bullets. Woke up in the middle of the night.”
Jennings launched FantasyLabs.com, one of the first websites dedicated to fantasy sports analytics, betting years ago on legalized sports betting.
State Rep. Alec Garnett sponsored the bill that referred the question to voters.
“When we pulled ahead by 80 votes, I was like ‘Whew!'” he said.
Garnett says many voters couldn’t get past the first sentence on the ballot: Should state taxes be increased by $29 million … but the goal was to help them see that the 10% tax was assessed to casinos and online operators that took the bets, not the people placing the bets. He says the narrow margin in the race is a reflection of Colorado’s fiscal conservative values as well as its Libertarian streak.
More than 90% of the money generated by the tax, he says, goes to something many Democrats and Republicans support — the state water plan.
“With the population planned to double by 2050, the pressure on our water supply is going to be so great that if don’t take these pre-emptive steps now to start conserving what we have, then we’re going to be put in a place where we’re not going to be able to catch up,” Garnett said.
Garnett says the Colorado Division of Gaming will decide the rules and which casinos and online operators get licenses.
A finance major in college, Jennings says some people prefer the stock market; he prefers the sports market.
Sports betting, he says, is already a multi-billion dollar industry — people just place bets illegally through bookies.
“Having it above board, legal, licensed, regulated is a win for everybody and the money goes to a good place. I had a passion for water in the state for a while, so this is the perfect marriage. It all came together,” Jennings said.
Eighteen other states have already legalized sports betting.