Gambling in Colorado

Colorado, defined by its stunning natural landscapes and mountain panoramas courtesy of the encompassing Rocky Mountains, is widely recognized as one of the most scenic states in America. Renowned not only for the striking views and prevalent mining industry, Colorado also contains an extensive history of gambling and is known for its overall permissive laws related to gaming.

From the very first full-fledged casino in all of America built in 1822 and named Brown’s Saloon, gambling in Colorado has evolved dramatically, and the current legalized forms of gambling are casinos (located only in three towns — Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek), Native American casinos, Pari-mutuel betting on greyhound and horse racing, social gaming, bingo and raffles, lottery, and others. There are over 30 casinos and Pari-mutuel facilities for gamblers to enjoy in Colorado.

This article will tell you all you need to know about Colorado gambling laws, their history, and timeline, as well as where to play when in Colorado.

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Online Gambling in Colorado

Online gambling belongs to a bit of a shady area of regulations, as there are no clear indications on whether online gaming is legal or not. However, in 2013, the Attorney General in Colorado, John Suthers, probably governed by Section 18-10-106 of the State law and 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) declared online gambling as illegal when asked for an opinion by the Department of Revenue, even if played on offshore gambling sites.

However, there were no recorded cases of anyone getting arrested for playing at offshore gambling sites, as illegal gambling is a Class 1 petty offense and no jail time is predicted.

History of the Gambling Laws in Colorado — The Law Overview

From the heyday of the Wild West and gambling in Saloons to the bans on most forms of gambling after the First World War and current laws that allow casinos in three cities and on Indian Reserve territories, the history of gambling laws in Colorado has been nothing short of spectacular.

It wasn’t before 1990 that the rebirth of Colorado gambling occurred and brought about immense changes to the economy of the state. Voters in Colorado voted for the Colorado Limited Gaming Initiative, also known as Initiative 4, which allowed gaming in the cities of Black Hawk, Central and Cripple Creek, all within a 50-mile radius of Denver. Players needed to be over 21 to enter casinos.

Apart from this monumental law that shaped the outlook we see in Colorado now, there were other legislation and initiatives worth mentioning down the following gambling law memory lane:

1882: The first casino in the entire US was established in Colorado, near the Utah and Wyoming state lines, called Brown’s Saloon.

1918: This year, the puritan sentiment prevailed and saw the abolition of most forms of gambling in Colorado.

1950: Prompted by Pastor Charles H. Hagus and his desire to raise the money for his church, The Annunciation, Colorado reached a set of new laws allowing for charitable bingo and raffles to be launched.

1950: 1950 saw the establishment of the Colorado Racing Commission that licensed and regulated horse and greyhound racing based on Pari-mutuel betting. Off-track betting was added in the late 1970s to boost the income for racers. Horse racing events organized through the Colorado Racing Commission are still legal, but the live greyhound racing was banned in 2014.

1983: The first state lottery was established, which first began by offering scratch cards and then continued to have a full-fledged state and interstate lotteries, like Powerballs and Mega Millions, with huge jackpots.

1990-1991: The initiative to legalize gambling was finally passed into law in 1991, allowing for the building of casinos in three cities — Black Hawk, Cripple Creek, and Central City, which led to the tremendous economic progress of these towns. However, there were some heavy restrictions. Only poker, slots, and blackjack games were allowed. Also, the maximum permitted bet was $5, and the working hours were capped at 18 hours maximum per day. Moreover, no alcohol service was allowed after 2 am.

1995: The first Compacts were signed with two main Indian Tribes in Colorado, Ute Mountain Tribe and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, which allowed them to run their casinos freely and according to 1988 The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, with all the same games as other casinos in Colorado, plus Keno games. These tribes have been running Sky Ute Casino Resort and Ute Mountain Casino Hotel ever since.

2009: In 2009, we saw the expansion of casino operations in the so-called Amendment 50 where voters agreed to add craps and roulette to the list of approved games, as well as let casinos stay open 24 hours and raise the maximum bet to $100.

2016: Colorado became only the fifth state to legalize daily fantasy sports betting under the licensing and regulatory body called the Division of Professions and Occupations that issues bodies to sites with 7,500 users or more. The sites with fewer users don’t need a license.

2019: Thanks to the voters in Colorado, sports betting is expected to become fully legalized in May of 2020, under the Proposition DD. Sports betting will be limited to three areas of the state where casinos and gambling are already functioning well, namely: Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. The tax on sports betting will be 10%.

Before any form of gambling becomes legal in Colorado, voters need to have a say in a referendum. If a person is caught in illegal gambling, it will be charged with a class 1 petty offense that entails a punishment of up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $500. The entire atmosphere surrounding gambling in Colorado seems to be shifting towards being more open and lenient and, so far, these forms of gambling have been declared legal:

Casino Games: Games such as poker, slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, and keno are legal in casinos in the three cities where gambling is allowed, plus the two Indian tribe casinos.

Sports Betting: Sports betting is expected to become fully legal in 2020, with the aforementioned cities having absolute rights to host sports betting on all sports. In the meantime, players can enjoy Pari-mutuel betting on greyhound and horse racing in three pari-mutuel facilities. Post Time and Pueblo feature greyhound racing, while horse racing is offered by courtesy of Arapahoe Park.

Live Poker: Live poker is allowed and played in licensed casinos where many live poker tournaments take place yearly with pot sizes that frequently go over $1 million.

Lottery: Lottery is licensed and regulated by the State law and, apart from scratch cards and the state lottery, players can enjoy interstate lottery Powerball and Mega Millions.

Online Gaming: Online gaming belongs to a bit of a shady area of regulations, as there are no clear indications on whether online gaming is legal or not. However, in 2005, the Attorney General in Colorado, probably governed by Section 18-10-106 of the State law, declared online gambling as illegal even if played on offshore gambling sites.

Charitable Bingo, Raffles, and Social Gaming: Charitable bingo and raffles are allowed under the law, as is social gaming as long as the house does not host the social gaming events with the desire to earn money.

Where to Gamble in Colorado?

There are 40 land-based casinos in Colorado, two of which are on Native Indian land and run by native tribes. In these casinos, you will find over 14,000 slots and gaming machines and 200+ table games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, and so on. Live poker is huge in Colorado, with over 100 different live poker tables available, with the most popular versions of Texas Hold’Em, Omaha, 7 Card Stud, and others.

Take a closer look at the following choices that are regularly hailed as the best casinos in Colorado, in all the three cities where playing is possible.

Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk

Nestled between Maryland Mountain and Ely Hill, this Black Hawk Ameristar Casino Resort Spa combines the feeling of being in a mountain lodge and newly-decorated structure of Las Vegas-style casino. You can locate it on 111 Richman Street, Black Hawk, CO 80422. The casino floor features skylight ceilings, timber beams, and massive floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces that give you the feeling of coziness all can enjoy. There, you will find over 1,200 slots and video machines, 40 tables, and 22 live poker games, as well as many amenities, like Spa, In-room, and fine dining, as well as a roof-top pool and dozens of deluxe rooms and suites.

Century Casino & Hotel Central City

Century Casino is located in Central City, on 102 Main Street, CO 80427, and is a premier gaming facility that has been voted Denver’s top casino for years. There are over 500 slots and table games for players to enjoy, as well as 26 top-rated rooms in their hotel. They offer 24-hour gaming and alcohol service and two fine dining options with delicacies all gourmets will know how to enjoy.

Century Casino & Hotel Cripple Creek

Another Century Casino finds its way to our list, but this one is located on 200 E Bennett Ave, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, and is one of the most frequently visited 24/7 casinos in Cripple Creek. It houses almost 1,000 different slots, table games like Roulette, Blackjack, Wild Six Card Draw Poker, and video poker games. The table limits are $100 per day, with minimum bets varying depending on the day you are playing and go from $2 to $5.

The hotel is equipped with the king and queen styled rooms, as well as luxurious suites that will make your stay as enjoyable as possible. Dining options include Mid City Grill with steaks and great burgers, as well as a greatly stocked bar to help you keep the roll going.


Is gambling legal in Colorado?

Most forms of gambling are legal in Colorado, including land-based casinos, horse and greyhound betting, lottery, and bingo.

Can I play blackjack in Colorado?

Yes, you can. Blackjack is a table game that is highly popular in Colorado casinos.

Is online gambling legal in Colorado?

Online gambling is considered illegal in Colorado, although there are no state laws that refer explicitly to this ban so that you can access offshore gambling sites without any fear of persecution.

Can I play daily fantasy sports in Colorado?

Yes, you can. Betting on daily fantasy sports is legal and regulated by the Division of Professions and Occupations.

What is the legal age for entering casinos?

You must be over 21 to enter Colorado casinos.