More Gambling Coming to Colorado?

In November, residents of Colorado will decide whether or not to give casinos the option of offering additional games. A ballot referendum appears on November 3rd, and if passed a new constitutional amendment would let casino towns decide if they wish to expand gambling options.

Colorado’s casino industry has been looking to expand gaming options recently, and that wish struck a chord with state lawmakers. Legislators in Colorado were able to pass an expanded gambling bill, but it must be approved by voters before it can come to fruition. 

Amendment 77 is the name of the ballot referendum set to appear on November 3rd. It would potentially allow casinos the opportunity to offer betting on a new range of games. Currently, casinos are extremely limited in the amount of wagering options they can offer.

The state currently has a $100 cap on wagers placed inside of a casino, and that is another area that could expand. In 2019, the cap on bets was just $5, but it was increased with the launch of sports betting.

Casinos would still have to approve these new limits, but lawmakers are optimistic that most would prefer higher bets as an option to customers.  Colorado residents have been responsive to other ballot measures in the past, and the casino industry is hoping it approves another ballot referendum

Could Expansion Lead to Problems?

Opponents of the referendum are pointing to the problems that could come with expanded gambling throughout the state. This was the same argument that was presented before sports betting was approved in Colorado as well.

Several religious groups are leading a campaign against this referendum’s passing, and problem gambling has become their biggest argument. These organizations focus on gambling statistics from across the United States, but Colorado has not experienced these same issues thus far.

The religious groups warn that problems emanating from gambling could spill over into local communities, causing the three remote casino towns unwanted strife. Through more than four months of sports betting, the state has not seen data to prove that issues like domestic abuse, alcoholism, or unemployment are being exacerbated solely because of gambling. 

Meanwhile, leaders of the three casino towns in the state have argued for the benefits of increased gambling options. Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek have all seen a huge revenue spike because of the gaming industry, and there is hope that expanded gaming can make these cities even better.

All three towns are struggling financially, even though sports betting is now up and running. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept tourists from traveling to these areas, and that portion of the state is looking for a boost.

Almost all of the casinos in these three towns are now back open, but gaming revenue is not even close to where it was predicted to be. 

Colorado Looking For More Revenue

Colorado has continued to look for new revenue sources, and increasing tourism would provide just that. Tourists frequently visit Colorado to explore the Rocky Mountains, but lawmakers are hoping to get those visitors to spend more money.

Local Choice Colorado contends that an increase in gaming options will help boost tourism numbers throughout the state. This could also lead to an increase of jobs, and would also lead to the construction of new venues.

The sports betting industry in Colorado launched on May 1st, and it has been extremely successful. Colorado has been able to attract some of the industry’s biggest operators, and the same thing could be done with expanded casino gambling.

Colorado has been hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leaving plenty of holes in next years budget. Passing this expanded gambling referendum could add another revenue source that will help the state recover and thrive in years to come.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.