Colorado Constitution standing in Way of Online Gambling

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Last year, Colorado lawmakers attempted to draft legislation that would make online gambling legal within the state. This bill never made it through to a vote, but the same lawmakers won’t be giving up in 2014.

The reason why Colorado is so interested in online gambling is simple: money. Adam Krejcik, who’s the managing director of digital and interactive gaming at Eilers Research, believes that Colorado online poker alone would generate anywhere from $30.4 million to $37.8 million after 3-5 years. Krejcik also believes that other online casino games like blackjack and slots could earn even more money at $112.5 million annually.

By comparison, Colorado’s land-based casinos made $761 million last year. So adding online casino and poker games could push the state’s overall gaming revenue near the billion-dollar range. Because of this fact, it’s easy to see why certain lawmakers like Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Adams County are on board with internet gaming.

“My thought and some others’ thoughts were, let’s have Colorado as close to the starting line as we can possibly be because as soon as the gates open, I think there are only going to be a few states that are going to have enough scale to make it work,” Priola said.

The one big opponent standing in the way of cyber gaming may be Colorado’s state constitution. As Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said, the constitution limits the type of gaming that can be brought into the state.

Colorado’s constitution prohibits all games of chance, expect in three small districts: Central, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. One specific line states that all casino games must meet “structures which conform …to the architectural styles and designs that were common to the areas prior to World War I.”

According to Suthers’ interpretation, those gambling in Colorado need to be physically present at the games, and “the location of the server or other hardware or software that determines the outcome of the bet would also be relevant to the permissibility of any online gambling under Colorado law.”

It’s highly unlikely that Colorado will pursue internet gaming until their Attorney General is on board. However, a new amendment to the state constitution could be passed with a statewide vote, thus clearing the way for online gaming.

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