The gateway to the West has officially opened, as Colorado gambling debuted to residents in early 2020. The gambling expansion provides the Centennial State with a taste of an ever-expanding industry, one that includes sports betting.
For the time being, sports betting remains the only form of regulated online gambling for the Coloradans. If you’re looking for Colorado online casinos or poker sites, the only legal options you have available are sweepstakes and social casino sites.
This page is an introduction to the legal status of all gambling in Colorado. Below, you’ll find more information on how to gamble online, which sites are accepting Colorado players and bonus offers.
Voters in November 2019 approved the regulation of retail and online sports betting.
Colorado offers legal daily fantasy sports (DFS). It did so in 2016, with a bill allowing the state’s Division of Professions and Occupations to govern DFS activity and set license and renewal fees for operators. It also allows smaller DFS operators with less than 7,500 users to operate without a license.
Colorado does offer online lottery sales. However, the Colorado Lottery does have a mobile app and website with information and game tools.
It is possible to purchase tickets for drawings in advance, using the state’s “Advance Play” option for Powerball, Mega Millions, Colorado Lotto+ and Lucky for Life tickets. However, Colorado does not offer an online or mail-in subscription service. The Advance Play feature is only available through lottery retailers.
There is no online poker in Colorado. The last legislative effort to bring legal poker sites to Colorado was in 2013, and it didn’t even get to a vote.
Global Poker, using a sweepstakes model, remains to be the only legal online poker option for players in the state.
There are also six live poker rooms in Colorado, including:
This section is a directory of some of the largest casinos you can gamble at in Colorado.
In 1990, Colorado voters initially approved limited-stakes gaming in Cripple Creek, Central City, and Black Hawk.
The first limited-stakes casinos launched in October 1991. The maximum bet allowed was only $5. Slots, blackjack, and poker were the only games allowed and casinos had to close from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.
In 2008, CO voters passed Amendment 50, raising the maximum bet to $100, adding craps and roulette, and allowing the casinos to stay open 24 hours, starting in July 2009.
Voters again went to the polls in November 2020. This time, voters approved Initiative 257, which gives players the ability to place bets of any amount.
According to the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission, the number of open and operating licensed commercial casinos and Indian casinos in the state has dipped from 42 in 2013 to 33 in 2020.
The hope is that the launch of sports betting can be a boost to the local casino economy.
Here’s a look at all of the Colorado casinos with casino games and what they have to offer:
The Colorado Lottery launched on Jan. 24, 1983, with just scratch tickets. The first draw games began on April 23, 1983.
Games include Cash 5, Pick 3, Colorado Lotto+ and multistate draw games, including Mega Millions, Lucky for Life, and Powerball scratch tickets.
Colorado Lottery retailer started selling Powerball tickets in 2001 and Mega Millions tickets in 2010. The Colorado Lottery launched Lucky for Life in 2016.
Fifty percent of Colorado Lottery proceeds go to a trust fund administered by Great Outdoors Colorado, which distributes the funds to local governments and land trusts.
Another 40% goes to the Conservation Trust Fund and 10% to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The Colorado Lottery has a free mobile app that allows you to:
Colorado legalized pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in Colorado in 1948.
Arapahoe Park is the only live horse racing venue in Colorado. It offers live racing, running a mixed thoroughbred and quarter horse meet from May to August.
It also offers simulcast wagering. There are 12 off-track betting (OTB) parlors throughout the state that do the same.
Colorado also permits online horse betting. Making bets online on horse races is legal due to a carve-out for pari-mutuel betting pools.
You can bet on races that occur outside of the state. These sites allow you to bet on tracks across the country and international races, and the special bets include the winner of the Triple Crown.
According to the American Gaming Association’s 2019 “State of the States” casino revenue roundup, casinos in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek posted a combined $842.1 million in revenue in 2018.
That marked a record for Colorado gaming and a 1.7% increase over the $828 million the industry posted in 2017. It was also a 13% increase over 2014 when there were even more commercial casinos operating in Colorado.
Original estimates claimed the state could generate $20 million or more from the 10% tax that it will charge legal online gambling operators in the state. That would mean Colorado casinos and online gambling operators will be posting an additional $200 million a year in gambling revenue.
However, the governor’s office now estimates it will collect between $1.4 million and $1.7 million in sports betting tax revenue in the first year, ramping up to, at most, $10.4 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year. It is a more conservative estimate of an additional $100 million in gambling revenue in the first full year with legal sports betting in Colorado.
Colorado has allowed pari-mutuel betting on horse races since 1949. Plus, there’s been a state lottery in Colorado since 1983.
However, Colorado gambling didn’t kick off until legal casino gambling came to the once sleepy mountain towns of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek in 1991.
These former mining towns were on the verge of becoming ghost towns when Colorado voters approved Initiative 4 to the Colorado constitution, allowing for limited gambling operations in these three cities only to save the failing local economies.
Only slots, blackjack, and poker were allowed, single bets could not exceed $5, and the casinos could not run 24 hours a day. Still, small casinos opened up and persevered under these restrictions in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek.
In 2008, the hope for increased revenue came in the form of Amendment 50. It sought to approve craps and roulette, allow the casinos to take bets of up to $100, and stay open 24 hours. Voters approved and revenues have been climbing ever since.
All three towns have been transformed from failed mining towns to quaint gambling destinations.
Most of the smaller casinos are reminiscent of Old West saloons. There are 33 among the three towns, the largest of which are in Black Hawk.
Of course, Central City is just a few miles away, and both are less than an hour’s drive from downtown Denver.
Cripple Creek is about an hour from Colorado Springs in the southeastern part of the state. Two tribal casinos owned and operated by the Ute tribe have also opened on the western side of the state.
Colorado still has live and simulcast horse racing at Arapahoe Park, just outside of Denver. Plus, 12 other off-track betting locations throughout the state.
The state lottery still runs and participates in the Mega Millions and Powerball multi-state draw games.
Now, sports betting is coming to the state. Also, 28 of the 33 casinos have already applied for sports betting master licenses, Colorado gambling appears on the verge of another boom.
One that will be spurred on even further by a recent movement to allow residents in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek to decide for themselves when it comes to increased betting limits and new games.
As the voice for the Colorado gaming industry, the Colorado Gaming Association (CGA) has issued the following responsible gaming position statement:
“(The CGA) defines problem gambling as any gambling behavior negatively impacting the lives of individuals, resulting in serious personal, financial, or legal consequences. Problem gambling takes two major forms: compulsive gambling and underage gambling, which affect both guests and employees. CGA believes problem gambling is a serious issue that deserves a proactive response from the casino industry. CGA is taking positive steps to address problem gambling because we do not want this behavior to harm our customers, employees, business operations, communities or industry. We have committed human and financial resources to promote education and awareness of compulsive gambling among our guests and employees. We have put in place policies and practices to deter underage gambling and discourage compulsive gambling. Our goal is to promote and support, to the fullest extent practical, responsible gambling behavior at every member casino of the Colorado Gaming Association.”
The CGA also offers training to casino employees, community and civic groups on the issues of problem and underage gambling.
The CGA also offers a self-exclusion program in conjunction with the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado (PGCC).
The program offers a voluntary self-exclusion program to those unable to gamble responsibly. Those taking advantage of the program can be removed from casino marketing lists, cancel slot club memberships, and cancel any check-cashing privileges with any and all casinos in Colorado.
The program is for those who want to cease gambling activities permanently. Casinos, including Ameristar and the Isle/Lady Luck Black Hawk, consider self-exclusion a permanent decision and will not allow even those who rescind self-exclusion to gamble.
Further resources for problem gamblers in Colorado include: