ENDORSEMENT: Prop DD ensures the house wins, but it’s a safe bet for Colorado voters

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Proposition DD is the legislative equivalent of using a crop duster to keep a little clover out of the lawn. Still, voters should say “yes.”

The problem is, there really is no problem that Prop DD tries to fix. It makes sports betting legal, but nobody really has much of an issue with all the illegal sports betting that Colorado residents have participated in for generations.

The measure is really about untapped tax revenue. It -tries to align this unregulated gambling genre with existing ones. In the process, it would collect a few-to-many millions of dollars a year in state tax dollars.

In fairness, anyone gambling on the Broncos or the Rockies should pay the same taxes on winnings that those do who win at the slots.

The strongest argument for Prop DD is that it’s similar to the state’s recreational marijuana industry. It stipulates that people are going to do illicit things like smoke weed and bet on sports teams regardless of whether its legal. Colorado might as well tax it.

Unfortunately, this proposed amendment is loaded with the state’s typical political contortions. 

Rather than just tax it and fill the state coffers with an expected $6 million to $29 million, the measure diverts the bulk of the funds to Colorado’s daunting Colorado Water Plan.

Sure the plan is an important and worthy cause, but the money this tax will raise is a drop in the ocean of money it’s going to take to fulfill the lofty Colorado Water Plan. There’s real risk here that the public and many lawmakers will think the state has the critical water issue taken care of. Even under the rosiest of sports-betting tax revenue projections, they don’t.

The plan is also hampered by monopoly, a trademark of Colorado gambling lobbyists. The measure allows existing gambling towns to continue to thwart any gambling expansion. It grants them a grandfathered monopoly on the places in Colorado gamblers can wager on sports.

The state just recently pushed past generations of similar “blue laws” that prevented people from buying beer at grocery stores. Rather than protecting mom-and-pop liquor stores, however, this measure protects a monopoly held by out-of-state gambling monoliths.

Above all, Prop DD doesn’t guarantee people will move their sports bets to sanctioned Colorado casinos.

A better way to write this amendment would be to divert all the tax proceeds to the state’s general fund and allow for expansion under state and local laws.

Don’t gamble on that happening. Voters should take the safe bet here and approve Prop DD. In a state where the gambling industry calls the shots at the state Capitol, this is as good as it’s going to get.