Colorado Joins the Race to Legalize Sports Betting

Written By: Kayla Sherrell

The race to legalize sports betting is on. After states like Delaware and Pennsylvania experienced early success, other jurisdictions – including Colorado – are looking to join the second wave of states to legalize gambling on professional sports. Whether legal sportsbooks are coming to Colorado is far from certain, but state officials appear to be approaching the concept with a rational and open mind.

Colorado State Attorney General Looks to Expedite Sports Betting Laws

Until recently, legal experts believed that Colorado’s state constitution would need to be revised in order for sports betting to be legalized. On August 2nd of last year, however, Colorado’s State Attorney General’s Office released an official statement. The statement explained how the legalization of sports betting could be accomplished using a statue rather than a constitutional amendment. This would expedite the legalization process for Colorado gambling enthusiasts, as passing a statue is far quicker and easier than amending a constitution.

Colorado’s decision to start planning the implementation of legal sports betting is a good policy, as states that have gone ahead to legalize gambling on professional sports are raking in dough hand-over-fist. An economics study held by Oxford University estimated that legalized sports betting in Colorado could earn over $300 million in revenue for the state each year. The Colorado Department of Revenue has already started preparing for the arrival of sports betting, and they’re practically counting the gaming-related tax revenues already.

Colorado Legislators Advocate for Sports Betting

Colorado lawmakers are fighting to see sports gambling legalized throughout the state in 2019. State Representatives Cole Wist and Alec Garnet have advocated for the legalization of sportsbooks, arguing that that the payout for legalizing an American pastime that currently takes place illegally behind closed doors is well worth the political risk they may suffer for supporting the concept. And fortunately for Representatives Wist and Garnet, they’re not alone.

Colorado state legislators from both parties have continued to advocate for sports betting to become a legal recreation in the state. However, regardless of this enthusiasm, the legislature is committed to considering voter opinions about finding the best approach to legalization of sports gambling.

Colorado Takes a Cautious Approach

Legalized gambling has been put before Colorado voters multiple times. But, the past eight attempts at legalizing sports betting in Colorado have been all but squashed by the democratic process. Whether advocates in the legislature will be able to convince voters of the potential benefits of sports betting remains to be seen. However, even with voter resistance to legalized sports betting, policymakers are starting to sketch out the details of what sports betting will look like in Colorado’s future.

The Department of Revenue has come to the conclusion that it makes more sense to profit from and regulate sports betting, rather than let it continue on the black market uncontested. And, if the state’s progressive stance on the legalization and taxation of other formerly black-market activities – namely, the legal marijuana industry – serves as a sign of what’s to come, we’re sure to see creative and solution-oriented sports betting laws out of Colorado very soon.

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