Supporters of Colorado's Proposition DD, the referred measure on sports betting that will appear on Colorado's Nov. 5 ballot, announced Thursday their first round of endorsements, including strong support from the agriculture industry.
Why would ag be interested in sports betting? It's because the measure would put a substantial down payment on the state's Water Plan, which charts decades of projects and conservation steps aimed at securing Colorado's water supplies.
According to its state fiscal analysis, DD could raise as much as $29 million from tax revenue assessed on sports bets. About $26 million of that would go to fund the state water plan.
• COMING TO COPO PRINT: More on Prop DD and the changes it could bring to a Colorado gambling town in our Aug. 31 print edition and online Sept. 4, only for paid subscribers.
"The farms and ranches in rural Colorado are an important part of our heritage and our economy," says a statement from Terry Fankhauser of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “Proposition DD will contribute to the development of additional storage and improve help improve irrigation efficiency so that the agricultural industry has the water needed to thrive in Colorado.”
Other ag endorses include the Colorado Dairy Association and Colorado Farm Bureau.
Non-ag endorsers include the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
"We must work harder to find ways to protect one of our scarcest resources and support water demands throughout our state,” said Chamber President Kelly Brough. “Proposition DD will fund projects to help the state meet its water needs using the Great Outdoors Colorado model created almost 30 years ago to fund parks and open space, which has been wildly successful in preserving what makes Colorado special and allowing all of Colorado to thrive.”
The Colorado Competitive Council, an affiliate of the chamber, and the South Metro Chamber of Commerce also endorse DD.
A bill placing Proposition DD on the ballot, House Bill 1327, was approved by the Colorado General Assembly with strong bipartisan majority votes in the 2019 session's final weeks. Gov. Jared Polis signed the measure on May 29.
Opponents of DD include Gary Wockner of Coloradans for Climate Justice. Wockner is a long-time opponent of the state Water Plan and of water storage projects on the Front Range and has referred to the water plan as the "Colorado Dam Plan."
Neither side has reported any substantial contributions to their issue committees as of Aug. 1.
Colorado lawmakers took the step of seeking a ballot measure after the U.S. Supreme Court last year decided to overturn a long-standing federal prohibition against sports betting and allow states to decide on their own. The high court's 6-3 decision struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, also known as the Bradley Act, adopted by Congress in 1992 as a way of protecting sports integrity.
According to the most recent draft of the ballot measure, it would ask voters if the state can increase taxes by $29 million annually to fund state water projects and pay for the regulation of sports betting through licensed casinos by authorizing a tax on sports betting of 10% of net sports betting proceeds. The tax would be levied on "persons licensed to conduct sports betting operations," according to the measure's language.