A year after Colorado voters approved legal sports betting, they’ll get a chance to give control of some sports betting and casino-related decisions to the three mining towns that host gaming — Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. Amendment 77, which is a constitutional amendment, would enable local residents, rather than residents around the state, to make some decisions about gaming, including changing or eliminating bet limits.
There is currently a $100 bet limit for casino games in Colorado. When voters initially approved gaming in 1990, the limit was $5. For sports betting, operators set their own limits, both on the retail and digital sides.
The only other state with bet limits is South Dakota, at $1,000. If approved, the referendum would also give local voters authority over adding new casino games and how to direct tax revenue.
The ballot question reads:
“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution and a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning voter-approved changes to limited gaming, and, in connection therewith, allowing the voters of Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek, for their individual cities, to approve other games in addition to those currently allowed and increase a maximum single bet to any amount; and allowing gaming tax revenue to be used for support services to improve student retention and credential completion by students enrolled in community colleges?”
Amendment 77 is getting lost in all the attention being paid to the presidential race, the #COsen race and some higher-profile initiative battles. But #casino operators say this could create jobs and boost tax revenues significantly if passes. Here's why: https://t.co/NBXFQAjyzq
— Ed Sealover (@ESealoverDenBiz) October 9, 2020
It’s likely that if the amendment is passed and residents in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek then vote to raise betting limits, the state would see an increase in gaming tax revenue. Among the other arguments for approving the referendum is one that local residents are best equipped to make decisions about their own communities. According to the Denver Business Journal, the amendment could also potentially create jobs.
On the flip side, according to the Denver Post, the amendment does not allow for additional funds to be set aside to combat problem gaming.
Should the amendment pass, it would put the decisions on gaming in the hands of approximately 2,100 people. All of Colorado’s 33 retail casinos are located in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. Cripple Creek has the largest population, at about 1,258, while Central City is home to about 770 people and Black Hawk to 128.
Local Choice Colorado, a group that supports the amendment, has received more than $3.86 million in campaign contributions, as of Oct. 9. Top donors include Penn National Gaming, Monarch Casino, and Maverick Colorado LLC — three casino companies which each made donations of at least $100,000 to the group, according to contribution and expenditure reports filed with the Colorado Secretary of State office.
Since sports betting was approved last November, casinos in all three towns have begun offering retail sports betting, and to date, 12 mobile platforms have gone live, including BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, and FanDuel, all of which launched on May 1.