Proposition DD sports betting issue too close to call


Election judge Amanda Vigil, right, gathers ballots from a motorist while election judge Marissa Burke, left, picks up ballots from another motorist at the drive-through site of the Denver Elections Division outside the City/County Building early Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) – Election officials are still tallying votes on a ballot measure that would legalize sports betting in Colorado.

Votes for Proposition DD gained a slight lead over “no” votes overnight.

But the race was too close to call, with ballots from about one of every five precincts uncounted by midmorning Wednesday.

The results are close despite no organized opposition to the measure.

Legislative leaders from both parties endorsed the ballot question, saying it was time to bring sports betting out of the dark and tax it for water needs.

A mandatory recount could be triggered if the difference in votes is less than or equal to 0.5% of the number of the highest votes cast. A recount can be requested if the difference is higher than that threshold, but the requestor would have to post a bond to pay for one.

Proposition DD called for a 10% flat tax on net sports betting proceeds. Parent companies operating the state’s 33 casinos could seek licenses for onsite betting as well as online and sports gambling apps.

Separate legislation passed this year would allow the Colorado Water Conservation Board to use the tax revenue — estimated at $11 million in fiscal year 2020-21 — for grants that further the goals of a state water plan launched under former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The plan is a living document setting long-term goals to meet the needs of a growing population, agriculture, outdoor recreation and obligations to Southwestern states that rely on the Colorado River.

The state has yet to find a way to meet the water plan’s estimated price tag of $100 million a year. But the sports betting proposal harvested a coalition of environmentalists and farming groups supporting it.

Legal sports betting has grown since New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2018 allowing all 50 states to offer it. But most states that moved quickly to do so have seen limited tax revenue.

An Associated Press analysis shows that seven states that reported on sports betting revenue for the fiscal year that ended in June generated a total $74 million in state taxes — a drop in the bucket for state budgets.

Reasons varied, from slow rollouts to the unavailability in some places of mobile betting.

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