When Coloradans narrowly voted in November 2019 to legalize sports wagering, the sell was that every bet on the Broncos or Rockies or Nuggets or Avs would ultimately help to conserve and care for the state’s water resources. And despite launching operators with no professional sports being played on May 1, 2020, the state Department of Revenue will, in fact, meet its minimum goal of sending at least $5 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which will then be able begin to implement its long-term plan beginning in 2022.
It was no sure thing that there would be enough wagers placed in the first year to begin funding the initiative when you consider that COVID-19 and related restrictions shut down professional sports nearly around the world for four months.
But Colorado has one of the most diverse and fat bet menus in the nation, and those who love to bet on sports did just that … on ping-pong, darts, Korean baseball, and many other previously unfamiliar sports and leagues. Denver, one of the few U.S. cities with teams in all four major professional sports leagues, also has a loyal following among its local fanbase. In an odd twist of fate, non-profit organizations such as the Colorado Water Trust stand to benefit financially when the Broncos come up short, Executive Director Andy Schultheiss told CoBets last May.
Over a 10-month period from May 1, 2020-March 1, 2021, Colorado sports betting operators took nearly $1.8 billion in wagers and paid the state almost $4.5 million in tax revenue, some of which is allocated for regulatory costs. With two months of revenue reports still to come before the first 12-month period of legal wagering is complete, it seems a good bet (pun intended) that the Department of Revenue will funnel $5 million or more to the water conservation board.
Though that number will be well below the $9.6 million that the department had originally hoped to send the water conservation board in the first year of legal wagering, it is also well above the revised estimate of $1.5 million that revenue officials put out last May at the height of coronavirus closures.
Operators embrace Colorado’s water initiative
As the second full year of legal sports betting is about to begin, a group of the major operators in the state is launching a campaign to remind residents of their good works and how legal sports betting ties into keeping the state’s water resources healthy.
PointsBet, which has its North American headquarters in Denver, is among the companies that is taking part in the “Colorado Water Wins” campaign, which will involve billboards and television ads featuring the slogan, the operator’s logo, and other key graphics.
“As the only major sports betting operator headquartered in Colorado, the PointsBet team places high value on investing and actively participating in the local community,” Eric Foote, chief commercial officer for PointsBet, told CoBets via email this week. “We are proud to be a part of the Colorado Water Wins effort and applaud the team for their work thus far.”
The program, which BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel are all embracing, is modeled after the “Great Outdoors Colorado” campaign. That initiative involves the Colorado Lottery advertising and showing how buying a lottery ticket helps to preserve and care for the state’s vast outdoor resources, including hiking trails, rivers, open spaces, and wildlife. The sportsbooks represent three of the first four operators to go live in Colorado last May.
Last month, FanDuel worked closely with the Water Wins campaign during March Madness, the largest U.S. wagering event on the annual sports betting calendar. When a new customer signed onto FanDuel’s website during the NCAA tournament, the user likely came across a “Water Wins,” watermark as they entered the site, according to Matt Garrigan, who serves as director of new market strategy at FanDuel.
“It was definitely front and center to what we were doing over March Madness,” Garrigan told CoBets. “We were proud to support that and we look forward to more initiatives like that in the future.”
A new campaign by four of Colorado’s largest sports-betting platforms — BetMGM, Draft Kings, FanDuel and PointsBet — aims to raise awareness of the relationship between gaming and water. More: https://t.co/Qo9BI5KVtF via @joeybunch #copolitics
— Linda Shapley (@LindaShapley) March 30, 2021
“Great Outdoors Colorado” is run by the Colorado Division of Natural Resources, which in turn grants funds to groups that support endangered species, conserve land, protect rivers, or restore trails.
“GoCo,” as it is referred to, bgan in 1992, and since then it has funded 5,398 environmental or conservation projects around the state.
“Living in Colorado, I’ve seen firsthand the effectiveness of the Great Outdoors Colorado program; our aim is to do the same for sports betting and water,” R. Stanton Dodge, DraftKings chief legal officer, told CoBets via email. “DraftKings is proud to help safeguard Colorado’s water resources for future generations, including my children who’ve grown up around our state’s rivers and streams.”