The casino industry in Colorado is limited to three remote towns in the Rocky Mountains, but these locations could soon see a major change in what they are allowed to offer. All of the casinos are in either Black Hawk, Central City, or Cripple Creek, and the casino industry has saved these former mining towns from extinction.
A campaign committee is working on getting a referendum placed on the ballots in November that would allow the casinos to raise their betting limits and also bring new games to each location. The name of the campaign is “Local Choice Colorado,” and they recently submitted more than 200,000 signatures.
The signatures were submitted to Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s office earlier this week, and they are now being reviewed. The state requires at least 124,632 valid signatures to get any referendum placed on the ballot.
The campaign committee is confident that they have the required number of signatures, and that could lead to a huge decision in November. Voters in the state will have another big decision to make besides simply placing a vote on the Presidential election.
The referendum asks voters if they are willing to give up their legal input on gambling matters, and instead leave the decisions up to the local government in the three towns. If the referendum were to pass, then each individual gaming town would be able to create their own gaming laws.
Allowing the casinos to increase max betting limits and add new games is the biggest reason for this campaign. The casinos are limited in what they can offer, and a number of casinos are hoping to be able to offer “baccarat” if this referendum were to pass.
Details of Referendum
The state of Colorado legalized gambling in 1991, and the three remote towns wasted little time in getting things up and running. Cripple Creek is located about an hour west of Colorado Springs, and Black Hawk and Central City are 35 miles west of Denver.
Most of the casinos in three locations are relatively smaller casinos, although some bigger casinos have started to pop up as well. The Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk is one of the largest venues in Colorado, but they are hoping that this referendum will allow them to expand even more.
The casinos are hoping that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will give them enough support to see this referendum be passed. The residents of each town believe that an increase in betting limits and more games will allow them to recover from the financial crisis.
Opponents of the referendum believe that this would take advantage of those people that are addicted to gambling, and would cause more harm than good. Look for this to be a hotly debated issue over the next few months leading up to the vote.
More Votes Needed For Approval
Even though lawmakers and campaign supporters believe that a majority of the voters will vote “yes,” when it comes to the referendum, that doesn’t mean that it will pass. This type of gaming referendum requires a supermajority, meaning that 55 percent of all voters would have to approve it.
Voters easily supported a referendum to allow the three remote towns the opportunity to offer gaming in 2008, but the process has changed since then. Citizens initiated a ballot referendum of their own in 2016 that changed the referendum process.
Through that referendum, the voters required there to be a supermajority for any changes that are made to the state constitution. This means that 68,548 votes are needed to support this referendum in order for it to pass.