By Peter Chawaga
Water projects in Colorado have received unexpected millions from an unlikely benefactor: sports gambling.
“Since Colorado launched legalized sports betting in May 2020, the state has collected nearly five times more money for water projects than anticipated,” the Denver Post reported. “The start of the National Football League’s season provided yet another welcome financial bump, with about $44 million in bets during its first weekend.”
Colorado legalized sports betting in 2019, with a proposition that promised to send the proceeds to state programs like Colorado’s Water Plan, designed to protect drinking water resources as they approach critical levels among drought conditions and increased demand. Collected funds have gone to support water conservation, natural habitat protections, infrastructure improvement, and more.
Water projects in Colorado have received $7.9 million from tax revenue generated by sports gambling in the first fiscal year since the practice was legalized, according to The Gazette. The state sports betting market now consists of 25 online operators and 17 retail locations.
The funds are much needed at a time when Colorado and many other western states are facing acute water scarcity problems. Extra funding could empower water recycling or conservation technologies, and other states experiencing drought may look to Colorado’s innovative funding model as a potential solution for their own problems.
“We are constantly amazed and impressed with the continued growth we see in our state and how Coloradans have embraced this new form of legalized entertainment,” Dan Hartman, Colorado’s division of gaming director, told The Gazette. “The enabling legislation, the vote of the people, the industry relationships with operators, and the enthusiasm of bettors have all contributed to our success in creating a healthy, competitive Colorado market. We are happy how these results translate into wins for the citizens of Colorado.”
To read more about how water projects find financing, visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.