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This is Part I of KTLA’s two-part series on Propositions 26 and 27. For Part II, click here.

In the upcoming election, Californians will cast votes on two propositions that would legalize sports gambling in the Golden State: Proposition 26 would legalize in-person sports betting, and Proposition 27, which would legalize online sports betting.  

In Colorado, both types of gambling are already legal after being approved by voters in 2019.  

“I think it’s been good for Colorado,” Dan Hartman, director of Colorado’s Division of Gaming, told KTLA. “It’s far exceeded our kind of conservative estimates of what it might bring in.”  

Hartman said since the law went into effect in May 2020, residents and visitors to the state have placed more than $8 billion in sports bets, resulting in $26 million in tax revenue for Colorado, most of which has been designated for water projects.  

“The market came in very, very quick and people in Colorado have really embraced this form of entertainment,” Hartman said.  

Jim Armstrong, owner of Bender’s Bar and Grill in Westminster, Colorado, told KTLA that the new law has been good for his business. 

“The people I talked to, on my little level, in my little universe here – they love it,” he said.  

Armstrong added that while it’s not his job to approve or disapprove of the state’s gambling laws, he’s welcomed it. 

“It brings people through the door, and guys like to bet with their buddies around. And for the most part, guys are betting $20, $50 – no big deal,” he said.  

President of the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado Peggy Brown, however, told KTLA that the coalition’s phones have blown up since the laws went into effect.  

From 2020 to 2021, according to Brown, calls to the state’s problem gambling helpline jumped by 45%, from 6,688 calls to 9,686 calls.  

“The basic call is coming in in a state of emergency when people have no recourse, they’re out of money, they’re out of time,” Brown told KTLA. “They’ve been presented ultimatums by their significant other, you know, ‘Don’t come, don’t do this,’ you know, repeatedly. And finally, it’s the last blow.”  

The state, for its part, recently committed more money to help problem gamblers.