Colorado and US Casinos Hit Record Highs in 2018

  • Colorado casinos hit record revenues in 2018 of $842m, a 1.7% increase
  • Half of the 24 states with legal commercial casinos in the US had record revenues in 2018
  • The American Gaming Association believe that legal sports betting is a major reason for the overall rise in casino revenues
  • Sports betting will be coming to Colorado in 2020 if the public approves a measure on the issue in November
  • The Colorado government received $125.5m in tax revenues from the gambling sector in 2018
Man waving flag of Colorado
Colorado’s commercial casino sector hit record revenues in 2018.

Colorado casino performance 2018

It was a good year in 2018 for commercial casinos in Colorado. The casino facilities in Cripple Creek, Central City, and Black Hawk had revenue records of $842.1m (£671.7m) for 2018 as per American Gaming Association (AGA) figures. This is a year-on-year increase of 1.7% from $828m (£660m) in 2017. Casino revenues have increased by nearly 13% since 2014.

It was a good year across the country for casinos. Of 24 states with legal gambling, twelve hit record revenues during 2018. As a whole, the commercial casino sector reached record highs of $41.7bn (£33.3bn) in 2018, a 3.5% increase over 2017.

AGA attributes these increases to legal sports betting. The federal ban on sports betting was ended by a Supreme Court decision in May 2018. Eight states legalized sports betting that year and nationwide sports betting revenue increased by 64% to over $430m (£343m) in 2018. The numbers are bound to increase in 2019 as more and more states legalize the activity.

Speaking about this evolution, AGA CEO and President Bill Miller says: “More people than ever are experiencing the economic and social benefits of gaming in their communities, due in part to the expansion of legal sports betting across the country.”

Sports betting in Colorado

Since the end of the federal ban on sports betting, there have been widespread calls to bring sports betting to Colorado. The main issue was whether a public vote was required. Three different types of licenses are up for grabs for sports betting: a master license, a sports betting operator license, and an online sports betting operator license.

The Colorado General Assembly has given its approval to House Bill 1327, which will legalize retail and online sports betting. There will be a public vote in November on whether or not the proposed tax rate of 10% on the activity is acceptable.

If voters approved the measure, it is likely that sportsbooks in the state will be open by May 2020. There could be annual tax revenues of about $6.5m (£5.2m) when the sector matures in Colorado.

Future of gambling in Colorado

Colorado has a long history of gambling. There have been gaming facilities since the 19th century when immigrants were heading west to start a new life. As these immigrants were coming from all across the world, they brought with them a diverse range of new games. The first casino in the country was the Brown Saloon, which opened in 1822 in Colorado. It was at the border region connecting Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.

Commercial casino gambling was made legal in 1991 in the three historic towns after many years of being illegal. Initially, there were restrictions but they have been gradually lifted. The previous maximum allowable bet of $4 has been replaced by a maximum bet of $100. The casinos can now also open around the clock rather than having a 2 AM curfew. There are also two tribal casinos in the state.

The Colorado government welcomes the tax revenue coming from the industry’s record performances. The state got $125.5m (£100.1m) in taxes from gambling activities in 2018. This figure was $9.7bn (£7.7bn) nationwide. Colorado is near the middle of the pack on the national scale. They are 11th out of 24 states in 2018 with legal commercial gambling. The figures do not take into account the tribal casinos or the horse tracks.

Gaming machines are still the most popular form of gambling in the state, bringing in 87% or $732m (£584m) of the revenues. The leading casino was Black Hawk, which had $632.2m (£504.3m) in revenue. Central City saw a year-on-year revenue increase of nearly 10% with revenues of $79m (£63m). Cripple Creek saw revenues of almost $140m (£112m), a 3.8% increase over 2017.