Colorado Casino Credit Bill Vetoed by Governor

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A proposed bill to allow casino operators in Colorado to extend credit to customers has been vetoed by Governor Jared Polis this week.

Bill 23-359 passed the Colorado Senate in controversial and last-minute fashion, as we reported earlier this month. It aimed to open up the law for casino operators to supply $1000-plus credit lines to customers, which supporters said could help Colorado casinos stay competitive with those in neighboring states.

However, despite the bill’s surprise pass through the legislature, Governor Polis remained unconvinced. After vetoing the potential new law, he wrote an open letter to the Colorado Senate explaining his decision.

“I support efforts to increase tourism revenue in all sectors of our state, including gaming. I also support the freedom of consenting individuals and companies to engage in transactions, such as loans,” Polis wrote. “The key element I take issue with here is whether persons with a gambling disorder can meaningfully consent to a transaction.”

Controversial Bill

Bill 23-259 hit the governor’s desk after passing in dramatic fashion during a late night vote on Saturday, May 6.

The bill failed its first vote with 31 votes for and 34 against. Howdver, several senators claimed to have voted in error or changed their opinions, and a reconsideration was demanded. It finally passed, 33-32.

The stated aim of the bill was to provide wealthy bettors with a means of organizing their casino funds, without having to carry large amounts of cash across state lines or visit multiple ATMs upon arrival in Colorado.

Rep Marc A. Snyder (D-18) was one of the biggest proponents of the legislation.

“It’s something that the casinos feel will help them to build and maintain customer base,” he said. “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.”

Out of State High Rollers

However, Governor Polis was not entirely swayed by that argument.

“If the purported target of this bill is out-of-state ‘high-rollers,’ then the credit line should be geared specifically to those patrons,” he wrote. “However, as currently written and passed, I worry that the bill would contribute to problematic gaming activities and hurt Coloradans, in particular those of limited means.”

Colorado currently allows casino gaming in three locations. Central City, Cripple Creek, and Black Hawk all have casino resorts.

Black Hawk, just 30 miles away from state capitol Denver, is one of the fastest-growing casino gaming destinations in the country. Caesars Entertainment, Monarch, Penn Entertainment and Bally’s all operate large casino resorts in the small township, population 150.

Monarch Casino and Resort donated to Governor Polis’ 2023 inauguration ceremony. It was also the site of the biggest casino heist in state and recent US history, when $500,000 was stolen from the casino cage back in March of this year.

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