A proposed ballot initiative would ask Colorado voters to allow the state’s gambling towns to increase casino bet limits, add new games and extend operating hours.
If approved by a statewide vote, residents of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek could decide whether to increase betting limits from $5 to $100, add craps and roulette, and allow casinos to operate 24 hours a day instead of closing at 2 a.m.
The referendum also would lock in the current tax rate on gaming and require a statewide vote to change it. The bill, submitted in May to the Legislative Council, would need 76,000 signatures.
A legislative committee also discussed a measure that would increase the betting limit to $10. The proposed ballot initiative was greeted positively by Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Bill Lerner in a note to investors. “An increase in the betting limit and the other changes would clearly be a positive for Colorado casino operators,” Lerner’s note said. “In 2008, Colorado casinos have been negatively impacted by the implementation of a smoking ban and gaming revenue statewide is down 10 percent through March.”
Under the proposal, state community colleges would receive 78 percent of any tax revenue collected above the 2007 amount, with the remaining 22 percent going to gambling towns.