Signatures submitted for Colorado initiative allowing voters in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek to vote to expand gaming types and increase max bets

Local Choice Colorado, sponsors of Initiative #257, reported submitting over 200,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office on July 28. To qualify for the November ballot, 124,632 valid signatures are required by August 3. The secretary of state verifies signatures through a random sample of 5% of submitted signatures. If the sampling projects between 90% and 110% of required valid signatures, a full check of all signatures is required. If the sampling projects more than 110% of the required signatures, the initiative is certified. If less than 90%, the initiative fails.

The initiative would amend the state constitution to allow voters in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek to vote to allow additional game types and increase the maximum single bet to any amount. The measure would amend state statute to make conforming changes.

Local Choice Colorado, the sponsoring committee for Initiative #257, reported $1.7 million in contributions and $1.05 million in expenditures according to reports that covered information through June 24, 2020. Penn National Gaming, which owns or operates 41 gaming and racing properties in 19 states, gave $750,000. Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc., which operates Monarch Black Hawk Casino, gave $200,000.

Currently, authorized games include physical and electronic slot machines, craps, roulette, and poker and blackjack card games. Colorado voters approved legalized gambling in the cities of Black Hawk, Central, and Cripple Creek through Initiative 4 in 1990. Statewide voters approved the measure in a vote of 57.31% to 42.39%. Gaming in the cities became legal on October 1, 1991.

Currently, the maximum single bet is $100. The maximum single bet was raised to $100 in 2008 under Amendment 50. Prior to Amendment 50, the maximum single bet was $50. Amendment 50 also allowed Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek voters to add roulette and craps as authorized games. The first 80% of the new revenue attributed to the expansions and maximum bet increase was designed to go to the casinos. Of the remaining 20%, 78% was to be distributed for community college student financial aid and classroom instruction and 22% was designed to be distributed to the cities where limited gaming exists for gaming impacts.

This 2020 initiative would amend state statute to include programs to improve student retention and increase credential completion in the revenue distributions to community colleges.

As of July 28, 2020, seven statewide ballot measures were certified to appear on the November ballot in Colorado:

1. A veto referendum determining whether Colorado will join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is on the ballot. States in the NPVIC agree to give their electoral votes for the presidential candidate that wins the most votes nationwide if the compact goes into effect.
2. Voters will decide on three citizen initiatives. One initiative would specify in the constitution that only U.S. citizens may vote. Similar measures are on the ballot in Alabama and Florida. One initiative would reintroduce gray wolves on public lands. One initiative would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks gestational age.

3. The state legislature referred a state statute to increase tobacco taxes and create a new e-cigarette tax to fund various health and education programs. The legislature also referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot: one concerning charitable games such as bingo and raffles and another to repeal the Gallagher Amendment, giving the legislature more control of property tax rates.