COLORADO — This year’s Super Bowl will be the second since online sports gambling became legal in Colorado. While online sports betting has brought in millions in tax revenue for the state, it has addiction experts questioning whether the money is worth people becoming addicted.

In the nearly two years since online sports betting has been legal in Colorado, the Colorado Gaming Division says it’s been changing the economic landscape in many ways. Dan Hartman, director of the Colorado Division of Gaming, says the gambling has brought in more tech jobs.

“We’ve had four foreign companies come and set their North American headquarters here in the state of Colorado each one of those bringing two to four hundred people eventually to those new businesses,” Hartman said.

Dan Hartman talks about the economic benefit of online betting. Credit: Rachel Saurer

Online gaming has steadily been growing in popularity since it was legalized as well. In the first month, Coloradans put 26 million dollars on the line. Last month, Hartman said it was over 460 million.

But, with more access to gaming and betting, the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado said it has negatively impacted gambling addictions.

“Online sports betting has increased the addiction rate 2 times. Our increase in phone calls to the helpline between 2020 to 2021 increased forty-five percent,” said Peggy Brown, president of the board for the coalition.

Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado said gambling addictions are on the rise since the legalization of sports gambling. Credit: File

But, the Colorado Gaming Division said that there was such a large black market for online gambling anyway, that legalizing it brings it into the light and they’re able to better regulate it.

“They encourage you to set your own limits. We have some advertising that you might see talks about setting your own limits. Know where you’re at. Have a game plan,” Hartman said.

Even though online gaming is legalized, the Colorado Gaming Division said they’re still committed to gambling safely and responsibly.

In September, 8.5 million dollars was collected from taxes on betting. Most of that went to fund water storage projects in Colorado, the rest went to Hold Harmless Fund as well as mental health sources for those who struggle with gambling addictions.

“That will always be part of the conversation that we move forward with. Responsible gaming and how to just make sure that you’re using it as entertainment and not something else.”