19 Oct

History of Gambling Laws in Colorado

By the Book: Historical timeline of legal gambling in Colorado.

Historical Timeline of Legal Gambling in ColoradoThe 2019 legalization of sports betting, both on land and online, set a new precedent for gambling laws in Colorado. Anyone with knowledge of the state’s variegated past understands just how significant the passage of Proposition DD was. In fact, every twist and turn in the timeline of lawful gambling activities was, at best, a difficult measure to pass.

It wasn’t always that way. Truth is, Colorado was an epicenter of gambling in the Old West. The frontier towns of Colorado were famous for attracting all sorts, from bold pioneers to infamous outlaws. The legendary tales of Butch Cassidy, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Tom Horn, Bat Masterson and so many more, flow from the Rockies like the melting snows of late spring. Gambling was a way of life in frontier towns, where saloons and brothels were the hub of socialization throughout much of the 19th century.

The gradual modernization of society led to a shift in ideals. The government took stronger action to enforce laws in the early 20th century, at which point all forms of gambling were strictly prohibited. It wasn’t until the 1940s that public and political opinion began to change.

The History of Colorado Gambling Laws

The first legislative shift towards legal gambling occurred in 1948. That is where our historical timeline begins…

1948 – Pari-Mutuel Horse & Greyhound Racing

The Colorado Gambling on Horse and Animal Races amendment was favored by the people of Colorado by a vote 2-to-1. This piece of legislation created the Colorado Racing Commission, responsible for the oversight of legal horse racing, greyhound racing, and betting on both. The first races were held, and the first bets accepted, in 1949.

1958 – Bingo and Other Charitable Games

Colorado Measure 4 (Gambling Legalization for Non-Profit Organizations) is a citizen initiative that was passed to legalize specific forms of gaming, including bingo, pull-tabs and raffles, hosted by charitable organizations for the purpose of fund raising.

1982 – Colorado Lottery

The Colorado Lottery Commission was developed by the state’s general assembly to oversee the conduction of the Colorado Lottery, including the provision of regulatory rules, types of games to be permitted, and the prizes associated with each lottery game. At this time, only scratch-off lottery tickets were legal, with the first games coming to market in 1983. Eventually, number drawings were also legalized, as were multi-state lottery drawings on the nation’s Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries.

The laws regarding distribution of proceeds (the amount left over after prizes are paid) have changed multiple times over the years, but one thing remains static. A minimum 50% of all lottery revenue must be paid back in prize money.

1990 – Limited Gaming Casinos

Staying true to their wary views on gambling, lawmakers narrowly (57 to 42) pass a highly restrictive measure to permit casino gambling on a few specific games, to be operated in just three specific locations. The Colorado Limited Gaming Act legalizes gaming operations in the mountain towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek (Native American tribal casinos excluded).

Bets were originally capped at $5 per game, and casinos were not allowed to stay open 24 hours. Furthermore, the 1990 definition of gaming specifically permits only “slot machines”, “blackjack” and “poker”. These laws went into effect the following year, 1991.

Since then, dozens of casinos have opened and closed their doors in Colorado. The following is a current list of all 29 casinos in Colorado, including their location.

Complete List of Colorado Casinos (Current Oct. 2020)
Street Address
Ameristar Casino Resort Spa
111 Richman St
Black Hawk
Brass Ass Casino
264 E Bennett Ave
Cripple Creek
Bronco Billy’s Casino
233 E Bennett Ave
Cripple Creek
Bull Durham Saloon & Casino
110 Main St
Black Hawk
Century Casino Hotel Central City
102 Main St
Central City
Century Casino Hotel Cripple Creek
200 E Bennett Ave
Cripple Creek
Colorado Grande Casino
300 E Bennett Ave
Cripple Creek
Dostal Alley Brewpub & Casino
116 Main St
Central City
Double Eagle Hotel & Casino
442 E Bennett Ave
Cripple Creek
Easy Street Casino
120 Main St
Central City
Famous Bonanza Casino
107 Main St
Central City
The Gilpin Casino
111 Main St
Black Hawk
Gold Creek Casino
442 E Bennett Ave
Cripple Creek
Golden Gates Casino
261 Main St
Black Hawk
Golden Gulch Casino
321 Main St
Black Hawk
Golden Mardi Gras Casino
300 Main St
Black Hawk
Grand Z Casino
321 Gregory St
Central City
Isle Casino
401 Main St
Black Hawk
J.P. McGills Hotel & Casino
232 Bennett Ave
Cripple Creek
Johnny Nolon’s Casino
301 Bennett Ave
Cripple Creek
Lady Luck Casino
340 Main St
Black Hawk
The Lodge Casino
240 Main St
Black Hawk
Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino
256 Bennett Ave
Black Hawk
Monarch Casino
488 Main St
Black Hawk
Red Dolly Casino
530 Gregory St
Black Hawk
Saratoga Casino
101 Main St
Black Hawk
Sky Ute Lodge & Casino
14324 Hwy 172 N
Ute Mountain Casino Hotel
2 Weeminuche Dr
The Wild Card Saloon
120 Main St
Black Hawk
2000 – CO Integrates Multi-State Lotteries

Passing by a close margin of52/48, the Colorado Multi-State Lotteries Referendum approves the sale of interstate number draw lotteries, including Mega Millions and Powerball.

2009 – Casino Max Bets Increase, Craps & Roulette Approved

An amendment to the Limited Gaming Act increases the maximum allowable bet from $5 to $100, and alters the definition of gaming to include “craps” and “roulette”.

The prevailing definition of “limited gaming”, according to Title 12, Article 47.1, Part 1, § 12-47.1-103, of the 2016 Colorado Revised Statutes reads:

(19) “Limited card games and slot machines”, “limited gaming”, or “gaming” means physical and electronic versions of slot machines, craps, roulette, and the card games of poker and blackjack authorized by this article and defined and regulated by the commission, each game having a maximum single bet of one hundred dollars.

2014 – Greyhound Racing Outlawed

Although no greyhound races have been run in the Centennial State since 2008, 2014-Governor John Hickenlooper signed into effect a law prohibiting the racing of, and/or wagering on the racing of, greyhound dogs.

2016 – Daily Fantasy Sports gets the Legal Nod

Betting on Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) was legalized by then-Gov. Hickenlooper’s signature on H-1404. Colorado became the fifth state to officially legalize fantasy sports betting, welcoming DraftKings, FanDuel and other DFS operators to apply for a sate gaming license.

2019 – Colorado Legalizes Retail & Mobile Sports Betting

The most remarkable gambling law passed to date was officially titled the Legalize Sports Betting with Tax Revenue for Water Projects measure, otherwise known by its short name, Proposition DD. The passage of Proposition DD cleared the way for legal sporting betting in Colorado, not just as land-based gaming properties, but over the internet, as well, via online websites and mobile applications.

It took several months for regulations to be set, and license applications from existing gaming properties to be approved, before the first live and online sportsbooks were permitted to go live on May 1, 2020. Since then, 11 land-based operators and 15 online sports betting operators have been approved and licensed in the state.

The legalization of online gambling in Colorado is a much deeper topic altogether, which brings us to our next segment…

Disclaimer – The information provided on this website is meant for educational purposes only. We will not be held liable for any irresponsible / illegal activity on your part.


  • Adalene Lucas

    is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.

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