Colorado Tribes' Sports Betting Plans Continue to Face Resistance

The Southern Ute and Ute Mountain tribes want to add online sports betting to their casinos, but some Colorado lawmakers worry the move would siphon tax revenue from the state's water projects.

Ziv Chen - Contributor at
Ziv Chen • Contributor
Jun 24, 2024 • 15:38 ET • 4 min read
Colorado Rockies hitter Charlie Blackmon
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The Southern Ute and Ute Mountain tribes of Colorado want to add online sports betting to their casino properties. However, a long-term dispute with state officials has put these plans on hold.

Colorado lawmakers have voiced concerns about permitting tribes to operate online Colorado sports betting because of taxation. According to Representative Dylan Roberts, allowing commercial gambling companies to operate remote sports betting kiosks on tribal land could cannibalize potential tax revenues due to the tribes' tax-exempt status. 

“When the legislature referred the sports betting initiative to voters in 2019, a key part was the state collecting tax on the revenues and dedicating 90% of that money to water projects," said Roberts. "Now there is a concern that if the physical locations moved to tribal lands, we would lose most of the funding for water.”

This dispute coincides with recent attempts by Colorado lawmakers to increase gambling revenues for water projects. Voters will consider a proposition from House Bill 1436 in November to remove the current $29 million cap on revenue the state can collect from gambling in a fiscal year. The state is predicted to generate up to $34.4 million in tax revenue in the next fiscal year, starting July 1.

Currently, casinos in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek offer remote sports betting, but previous attempts to reach an agreement that would allow tribes to participate have failed. 

“We want the opportunity to do what every other casino in the state is allowed to do. And we believe we have the right to do so,” said Ute Mountain lawyer Peter Ortego.

The Colorado Department of Revenue and Southern Ute Tribe in Ignacio declined to comment on the dispute.

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