Can Colorado Sports Betting Referendum Overcome Ballot Question Language?

Colorado sports betting passed in a bill in May, but whether it’s actually legalized will be decided by vote next week.
Proposition DD is on Tuesday‘s ballot. The bill received strong support in the legislature, but now it’s on the public to choose whether sports betting in Colorado will commence this fiscal year.
Colorado law requires all measures that would increase taxes to go before a vote of the people under a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR.) That’s why the Colorado sports betting bill must appear on Tuesday’s ballot.
Polls have been mixed on whether sports betting will pass or not. One of the state’s hopeful entrants, PointsBet, thinks there’s a chance, CEO Sam Swanell said. PointsBet also is planning a western US headquarters in Denver.
Swanell said the company is increasingly confident the proposition should pass as feedback from pollsters has been positive. That said, he also mentioned it’s “not the end of the world” if it doesn’t.
Rocky Mountain aye for Colorado sports betting?
What’s at stake for CO sports betting fans is huge, of course. Colorado limits casinos to just three remote Rocky Mountain towns, so a retail sportsbook wouldn’t be an option for everyone.
But the state allowed mobile without in-person registration, meaning bets can be placed shortly after downloading an app and validating the bettor’s identity.
The projected financial impact for Colorado sports betting falls in the middle of states passing laws in the current day. A fiscal impact statement revised in September suggests as much as $1.5 million in revenue will come from the sports betting taxes for fiscal 2020 based on two months.
That suggests sports betting would launch around May, given Colorado’s fiscal year ends June 30.
That should rise to as much as $10.4 million in fiscal 2021 based on handle of up to $1.5 billion in fiscal 2021. The new CO sports betting law would tax revenue at 10%, a rate in line with most US jurisdictions.
Biggest opponent is the text
The most tenuous part about Colorado sports betting going to a vote is the wording of the question:
Shall state taxes be increased by twenty-nine million dollars annually to fund state water projects and commitments and to pay for the regulation of sports betting through licensed casinos by authorizing a tax on sports betting of ten percent of net sports betting proceeds, and to impose the tax on persons licensed to conduct sports betting?
That question text derives directly from H 1327, the bill to allow sports betting. TABOR requirements provide a fairly narrow lane in which ballot language can be constructed.
Partnerships already signed
Even though Colorado sports betting isn’t a definite, some operators have already signed agreements based on how many casino licenses they have.
Double Eagle Casino signed the previously mentioned PointsBet. Full House signed agreements with Churchill Downs’ BetAmerica, Smarkets and Wynn Resorts.
More details in the Colorado bill
Each of Colorado’s 33 commercial casinos can sign a sports betting operator for online and retail operations. The operator doesn’t have to be the same for both channels. Each license will last for two years.
The bill only bans betting on esports and high school sports. Collegiate betting is allowed, though there are no prop bets allowed.
 
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Thursday January 01, 1970

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