Colorado Campaigners Submit 210,000+ Signatures to Up Betting Limits

  • Over 210,000 signatures were submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office
  • Initiative 257 would raise or get rid of the $100 betting limit and allow casinos to offer new games
  • Residents of the state’s gaming towns will vote on the measures if the statewide vote passes
  • Changes could be implemented on May 1, 2021 if the initiative is a success
Pen signing a document
Over 210,000 signatures have been submitted for a Colorado casino ballot initiative that aims to raise betting limits. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Signatures collected

The Local Choice Colorado campaign has submitted over 210,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office as part of its casino ballot initiative.

The casino gambling proponents behind the campaign seek to raise or eliminate betting limits on casino games, as well as allow new types of games – like baccarat, Pai Gow, and keno – to be offered by casinos.

give the state’s three gaming towns the ability to decide on the issue for themselves

The hope is to have Initiative 257 placed on the statewide ballot in November. The measure would not change the state’s gambling laws, but rather give the state’s three gaming towns the ability to decide on the issue for themselves.

The Secretary of State’s office has 30 days to verify that there were at least 124,632 valid signatures on the petition. This total is a requirement for any citizen-led initiative to make it onto the statewide ballot.

Local Choice Colorado was able to collect signatures despite the ongoing pandemic, as many visitors have been visiting the three gaming towns – Cripple Creek, Central City and Black Hawk – since the properties reopened in June. 

Pushing for change

To rally voter support, Local Choice Colorado is highlighting how boosting casino revenue will help workers and aid those public services that benefit from gaming taxes, such as the State Historical Fund and community colleges.

this measure provides a potential life preserver for these towns”

Speaking about these issues, proponents of Initiative 257 said: “In these unprecedented times of historic unemployment and economic devastation, this measure provides a potential life preserver for these towns and added revenue for struggling community colleges and the State of Colorado.”

If the measure is approved via a statewide vote, the issue would then be put to the gaming cities within 33 days. If the towns vote in favor, the changes could go into effect on May 1, 2021.

Currently, state law limits the maximum bet to $100 per spin, play, or hand of a table game. Colorado is one of only two of the 23 states that have legal gambling to still have bet limits in place. The betting limit in Deadwood, South Dakota is $1,000.

Hoping for a boost

Efforts to try to change these limitations began before the coronavirus pandemic hit. There is now more urgency as the casinos were shut down from the middle of March until mid-June and lost out on significant revenue.

Another issue for the casinos is that table games have not been able to restart yet because of the extensive health and safety protocols. About 10,000 workers in the sector have been either furloughed or laid-off as a result of these shutdowns. 

Voters approved regulated sports betting in November 2019 and it went live on May 1. The timing proved tricky, however, as the launch came at a time when casinos were closed and there were little to no significant sporting events on which to bet, even with the online sportsbooks. For the first month of sports betting in Colorado, there was $25.6m wagered, rising to $38.1m in June.

By getting rid of betting limits, it is hoped that big spenders may be more inclined to visit Colorado casinos instead of traveling to places like Las Vegas. The $100 betting cap has been in place since 2009, after Initiative 50 raised the limit from $5.