Since Colorado launched legalized sports betting in 2020, the state has raised nearly five times more money than expected for water projects.
DENVER – Since Colorado launched legalized sports betting in May 2020, the state has raised nearly five times as much money for water projects than expected, gambling officials said.
The start of the National Football League season provided another welcome financial bump, with around $ 44 million in wagers in its first weekend (Sept. 9-13), according to Daniel Hartman, director of the National Football League. State Division of Gaming.
âFootball is running at full speed. It was a big opening for us, âsaid Hartman. “It really is the biggest market for sports betting.”
RELATED: Half of the United States Offers Legal Sports Betting at the Start of the NFL Season
According to Lauren Ris, deputy director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the money raised from the game’s proceeds goes to work to conserve water, protect natural habitats, improve infrastructure and more. And more money equates to funding new projects under the Colorado Water Plan at a time when downstream Colorado River reservoirs are low.
> This story is powered by COLab, the Colorado News Collaborative. 9NEWS joined this historic collaboration with over 40 other newsrooms across Colorado to better serve audiences.
Hartman said his office has earmarked about $ 8 million in sports betting for the plan, which sets priorities through 2050 for projects in the following five categories: agriculture; conservation and use of land; commitment and innovation; environment and leisure; and water storage and supply.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board is handing out the money, and Ris said he’s trying to fund projects that tick more than one box, like working with Colorado Springs Utilities which brings water from the Eagle River Basin to Colorado. Springs and Aurora – what she said “opened up quite a bit of habitat for fish and boating.
Before voters legalized sports betting, Ris said his department gave grants with money officials found in their “couch cushions.”
> The video above is from August 2, when Colorado raised over $ 8 million through sports betting
Initially, legislative analysts predicted the game could fetch between $ 9.7 million and $ 11.2 million in its first year, Revenue Department spokeswoman Suzanne Karrer said. But soon after voters agreed to legalize the practice, state officials reduced their estimates for 2020-2021 to between $ 1.5 million and $ 1.7 million, in part because casinos didn’t were unwilling to pay $ 125,000 every two years to organize sports betting, Karrer said.
Even when the pandemic shut down leagues for a few months, gamers flocked to sports betting – made easy by apps. The $ 3 billion in bets from May 2020 to July 31, 2021 translates to $ 9.4 million in revenue for the state, Hartman said.
âPeople found a new way to watch and enjoy sport while they were at home and not actually in the stadiums,â he said.
Colorado had four online businesses taking bets in 2020 (casinos were closed); in 2021, there are now 25 online âoperatorsâ and 17 casinos in the towns of Cripple Creek, Central City and Blackhawk.
Ris said the board could not distribute any of the windfall until next summer, after the 2022 General Assembly granted him permission to spend the money.
RELATED: After Months of Sports Betting, How Much Tax Money Has Colorado Made?
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Latest from 9NEWS