Colorado casinos currently bar gamblers from risking more than $100 on a single bet. But that could change should an initiative pass that would do away with max wagers.
Initiative 257, introduced by Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown and Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman, seeks to amend the Colorado Constitution and remove the $100 betting limit at casinos in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek.
“These towns have built much of their local economies around hotels, restaurants, tourism, and travelers who visit because of gaming. Voters in these communities should be allowed to decide what is best for them and their economy, including whether they want to change betting limits and add new games,” Brown opined.
Coloradans legalized gambling in the three mountainous areas in 1990 to help fund historic preservations in the mining towns. The commercial casinos are taxed on a sliding scale based on revenues.
The tax rate is 0.25 percent on the first $2 million of gross gaming revenue (GGR), and increases to as high as 20 percent on win of $13 million or more.
When the gaming measure passed 30 years ago, the law placed a $5 cap on each bet. That was greatly increased in 2008 to $100. Now, Brown and Cadman want to allow gamblers to risk as much as they want.
“If the three Colorado casino towns choose to extend their limits and game options, the modest boost to revenue would be a win-win-win for all the businesses and employees in these small towns, the players who are asking for more gaming options, and the community colleges that receive the taxes,” said Cadman.
For the imitative to proceed, the group supporting the referendum will need to collect 125,000 valid signatures and submit them to the state before August. Signatures must additionally represent at least two percent of all registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 Senate districts.
If that happens, the initiative will be placed on the 2020 ballot during the November general election. For Initiative 257 to become law, at least 55 percent of voters will need to back removing the betting limit. Finally, local voters would also need to sign-off on the gaming regulatory change.
Sports Betting Impact
Colorado is one of 18 states that have passed sports betting laws since the Supreme Court’s May 2018 repeal of the federal ban. Voters backed amending the state’s constitution during a November 2019 election.
Fiscal research shows that the 10 percent tax on sports betting revenue generated at the casinos, as well as through online mobile sportsbooks, could deliver the state an estimated $29 million a year. That number will only increase should Initiative 257 be enacted, as the tax forecast assumed the $100 maximum betting limit.
Colorado is one of only two states that imposes betting limits, the other being South Dakota, which limits single wagers in Deadwood to $1,000.