Colorado Focused on Improving Responsible Gaming

Colorado is taking steps to increase awareness for responsible gaming.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed HB22-1402 into law in June. The Responsible Gaming Grant Program updates Colorado’s funding to support responsible gaming. It also provides funding for Colorado waterways.

The goal is to increase the amount of funding that will go to problem-gaming services, closes existing loopholes, and increase the percent of tax revenue that supports the Colorado Water Plan

The Responsible Gaming Grant Program

The largest focus of the bill is establishing a grant program to fund problem gambling research and treatment in the state of Colorado. Now that the bill is approved, nearly $3 million in grants will be provided annually to responsible gaming.

Prior to the updated legislation, the annual amount was $130,000.

The new funding will come from three revenue sources.

To receive funding from the new grant program to research and treat problem gaming, applicants will need to submit an application. The requests will include how the applicant will spend the money to address problem gaming or increasing awareness of responsible gaming. 

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Limiting ‘Free Bets’

The bill also contains provisions that help Colorado combat gambling addiction. One provision reduces the number of “free bet” percentage offers sportsbooks are allowed to offer. These free bets are often used to bring in new customers, and can be deducted from the operator’s reported total handle. This factors into the operator’s state tax liability, which means that fewer free bet offers means that operators will likely have to pay more in tax. 

A separate provision requires the Colorado Gaming Division to operate a program to exclude individuals from gaming activities in the state. This means that those living in the state will have an easier time pursuing self-exclusion. Residents will be able to add their own names to online and/or in-person exclusion lists.

Operators will also have to submit an annual report to the Gaming Division that describes the company’s efforts to promote responsible gaming. This includes advertisements and other promotions that encourage people to game safely.

Funding for the Colorado Water Plan

The Colorado Water Plan was created in 2015 to serve as a solutions framework for the state’s water challenges. Proposition DD, which legalized sports betting in Colorado, which earmarked a significant portion of the sports betting tax revenue for the water plan. 

The new legislation will increase the water funding by 50% to start, with opportunities to increase the percent as time goes on. This will allow the funding to increase by $6 million this year, pushing the total funding from $12 million to $18 million. The amount is expected to increase year-over-year. To date, sports betting in Colorado has provided $17.7 million in funding for Colorado water projects. 

Funding for the Colorado Water Plan is critical. The draft of the 2023 update to the plan explains the water in Colorado “is facing unprecedented challenges.” Over 6 million people in Colorado depend on water from Colorado river basins, as do residents in 19 other states and Mexico. Impacts from population growth, climate change, and wildfires, the system is at higher risk than it has been before. 

The increased funding from HB22-1402 will help to support the grassroots efforts that make positive impacts to water in Colorado and the surrounding states. 

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