Colorado Casino Credit Bill Passes State House in Last-Minute Revival

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A controversial bill that aims to allow Colorado casinos to extend lines of credit to customers recently passed the state Senate in dramatic fashion.

Senate Bill 23-359 was considered dead in the water after failing a House vote on Saturday night, with 31 votes for and 34 against.

However, Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-63) called for a revote. Several representatives then switched votes on both sides, but the “Yes” votes won out the second time, and the bill narrowly passed, 33-32.

Voted in Error

Bill 23-359 received support and opposition on both sides of the House before Saturday’s vote.

Proponents said it would encourage high-value customers to come to the state’s casinos, as they wouldn’t have to carry cash across state lines or use ATMs. Legislators against the proposal said it would encourage gambling by those who couldn’t afford it.

“It’s really trying to attract folks that want to gamble … Gives them the opportunity ahead of time to apply for credit with the casino,” said Rep. Marc Snyder, one of the sponsors of the bill. “It’s something that the casinos feel will help them to build and maintain customer base.”

Among those against the proposal was Rep. Richard Holtorf.

“If you’re having to borrow money to gamble, that means you already spent the money you had to spend on gambling, and now you’re wanting to get in the game without any money,” he told reporters earlier in the month, according to CPR News.

However, after he voted “No” on the first call, Holtorf then asked legislators to reconsider, because he “may have voted in error.” He then voted “Yes” on the reconsideration in an apparent 180 on his previous position.

“Just to elaborate, what we saw tonight is that a bill failed, then a sponsor immediately left the chamber to talk to special interests in the lobby, came back in, spoke to a couple colleagues, and got them to ask for a reconsideration,” said Rep. Jennifer Parenti (D-19) after the vote.

Holtorf has yet to publicly comment on his decision to switch stances on the issue.

Credit Worthy

Before it can be passed into law, the proposal requires a second look from the Senate and a signature from Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

It does set out several conditions for casino credit lending. That includes requirements for casinos to evaluate if customers are credit worthy, and ensures that they do not have a criminal record or any outstanding debts, child support, or court payments due.

Colorado’s land-based casino market is one of the 10 fastest-growing in the country. The small town of Black Hawk, population 150, is about 35 miles away from state capital Denver. It is home to four large casino resorts.

Caesars Entertainment, Monarch Casino & Resort, Penn Entertainment, and Bally’s all operate casinos there. Supporters of this bill say it will help keep these businesses growing, even faced with stiff competition from relatively nearby Las Vegas.

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