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Legalized sports gambling, sin tax winning in Colo.

DENVER (BP) — Colorado is on the cusp of legalizing sports gambling after voters Tuesday (Nov. 5) narrowly approved a ballot measure that also taxes casino proceeds 10 percent to benefit water conservation and storage.

Christians have opposed the measure that legislators voted to place before the electorate.

While the measure passed by only 1 percent of the vote, Colorado Director of Elections Judd Choate told Baptist Press the spread is well outside the margin requiring a recount. About 150,000 ballots remain to be counted, he said, but are in heavily populated areas that have overwhelmingly approved the measure.

The state anticipates the measure to pass by a substantially larger margin than the 13,000 current vote difference, Choate told BP. Colorado would be the 19th state, in addition to Washington D.C., to legalize sports betting, according to reports.

Bruce Hausknecht, a legal analyst for Focus on the Family, said the measure promotes gambling’s deceptive lure.

“Proposition DD offers false promises that disguise the harsh reality behind gambling,” Hausknecht told the Colorado Sun in advance of election day. “Gambling’s effects on the family can be devastating. It promotes poverty, crime and family breakdown, including divorce.”

Southern Baptists have a legacy of opposing gambling. The Southern Baptist Convention has passed 18 resolutions focused on and highlighting the sin and dangers of gambling, most recently in 2017.

The resolution On the Sin of Gambling exhorts Southern Baptists and all other believers to abstain from gambling; urges government leaders to end state-sponsored gambling, to curtail all forms of destructive gambling, and to address its harmful effects through policy and legislation; and encourages SBC leaders, entities, and pastors to continue to educate Southern Baptists on the deceptive sin of gambling.

Gambling violates the principles of neighbor-love, lordship, work, contentment and stewardship, among others, messengers said in approving the document.

Sports gambling remained a federal crime until 2018. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), allowing states to legalize the practice.

In Murphy v. NCAA, the court said the ban violated the U.S. Constitution’s anti-commandeering doctrine that Congress has no power to compel states to require or prohibit acts simply because the acts are federally prohibited, the Sun reported.

Preceding Tuesday’s vote, sports gambling was already legal in Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia and Washington D.C., the Sun reported.

In Colorado, a 10 percent tax on casinos’ net proceeds from sports gambling is promoted as capable of raising $29 million a year. The state has 31 casinos, according to AmericanCasinoGuide.com, and the state promotes itself at Colorado.com as having “nearly 40.”