Sitting at a make-shift desk by the South Platte last week, Gov. Jared Polis signed into law Proposition DD - the voter-approved ballot measure legalizing sports betting and taxing it to help fund a state water conservation plan.
Even with bipartisan support and more of a ripple than a wave of opposition, Prop DD barely passed the Colorado electorate, winning by the narrowest of margins 50.73 percent in favor to 49.26 percent opposed. A difference of only 20,904 votes among the 1.4 million votes tallied on the proposition.
To find who voted yes or no and why, La Vida Latina once again took to the streets to measure the public’s awareness of Proposition DD and find out what side of the fence they fell on.
“I didn’t think much of it,” Sandra King, 33, Castle Rock, said of Prop DD. “I don’t gamble and, even if I did I wouldn’t gamble on sports, so it doesn’t have a direct effect on me. I kind of see it like taxing marijuana to fund education. I’m not going to smoke pot, but I’m content that it’s taxed for a good cause.”
That was the case for many.
“It’s just another sin tax,” Hector Mejia, 49, Lone Tree, said of the ballot measure. “I mean we tax pot, we tax alcohol heavily, why not tax gambling as well?”
He added that with the failure of Proposition CC, which would have enacted a counter-measure to the state’s TABOR Amendment and allowed the state to pocket all the money it collects to fund education and transportation, the next great source of state revenue via taxation has yet to be mined.
“What we need are some Holy taxes,” he said. “I mean sure, get rich off the sinners or whatever, but it’s about time these churches start paying too. You want to fund education and rebuild roads? Tax Jesus.”
Though no proposition for “taxing Jesus” - or any religious institutions - was anywhere near Colorado’s 2019 ballot, the passing of Proposition DD marked a significant change for Colorado as now the state’s 33 casinos will offer wagering on professional, collegiate, motor and Olympic sports beginning in May 2020.
“I don’t like it,” said Gabriela Andrews, 27, Aurora. “I think it allows an exploitative group of individuals to take advantage of our push-button era. I mean you can literally loose thousands of dollars by pressing a button on your phone with almost no regulation. There are life-altering consequences in that and it surprises me that no one really seems to care.”
Andrews’ principle fear comes from the online sports betting component of the proposition that will now be available to those who are not willing, or able, to gamble in person at one of the state’s casinos (most of which lie in the state’s mountainous towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek, where gambling is already legal).
National sports-book makers like FanDuel and DraftKings were among key financial contributors to the campaign in favor of Proposition DD, but so too were farmers, outdoor-recreation supports and water conservationists who looked past the “life-altering” consequences of sports betting and focused instead on the potential $29 million per year the measure could produce to keep Colorado’s water in Colorado.
Of course Proposition DD only came about due to a 2018 Supreme Court decision in the case of Murphy v. NCAA, which overturned the federal sports betting ban known as PAPSA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992). Since that time 42 states, including Colorado, have enacted, will enact or are pursuing some form of legal sports betting.