Higher Betting Limits Expected at Casino Towns in Colorado

By  //  January 26, 2021

Elected leaders in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek have voted in favor of lifting wager caps and thus allow more new games in casinos in Colorado. This is in compliance with the recently-passed Amendment 77.

It is expected that these newly increased limits will rival some of those which can be found across the pond at UK casinos that you’ll find here and could be a huge leap forward for the United States and Colorado in particular.

When Amendment 77 was approved by Colorado voters in November, Black Hawk explained that the city will witness a gaming style reminiscent of Las Vegas.

According to the Amendment, voters in the three gambling towns of Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek were empowered to increase bet limits to over $100, the state’s previously approved cap.

They are also empowered to approve new games, provided that the state’s Limited Gaming Control Commission allows such games.

Acting swiftly, the Black Hawk City Council voted in favour of unlimited single-bet wagers on December 1.

Casinos operating within the city are also allowed to include a wide range of new games such as keno, pai gow poker, baccarat, and other games in their menu, subjecting to the state’s approval. The changes will expectedly be effective as from May 1.

A news release by the city assured Coloradans that they would soon have Las Vegas-style gaming brought to their doorsteps. So, they will no longer have to make time-consuming trips to Las Vegas for a taste of their gambling experience.

With the changes, Colorado will be on par with other states where gambling isn’t considered illegal. In the words of American Gaming Association’s Jessica Feil, Colorado has been contending with bet limits for years with South Dakota feeling the heat more than others. That was before the vote.

Cripple Creek and Central City have followed in the footsteps of Black Hawk and allowed new games in their casinos. They have equally lifted bet limits while the gambling towns affected are working hard to make the best use of the new freedom.

However, some elected officials and casino managers have some reservations about the possible impact of Amendment 77 on the affected communities. Sean Demeule explained that Colorado 119 shouldn’t raise their hopes too high, expecting to be at the same level as the Vegas Strip.

The general manager of Black Hawk-based Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa, one of the largest casinos in the state, added that the new amendment won’t be a game-changer for Coloradans.

He further reminded the affected communities that they shouldn’t expect its revenue to grow into hundreds of millions of dollars annually as recorded by Las Vegas. Rather, the communities should only focus on being on par with some neighboring states.

Not having to embark on an amendment campaign each time casinos decide to add more games to their games list is advantageous. The bet limit was increased from $5 to $100 in the state, thanks to Amendment 50 made in 2008.

The Amendment also allowed room for the addition of craps and roulette to their games. Thanks to it, casinos are permitted to be open for 24 hours.

While talking about the benefits of the voting system, Demeule said that the permission of local voters and local government to make necessary changes in reaction to industry trends and offer more games is beneficial to the gaming community, according to the Colorado Gaming Association’s secretary-treasurer.

For years, Colorado casinos have been craving for baccarat games. The two-card, fast-paced game will make the list of the first set of games to be added whenever the gaming commission approves the new list in their next meeting.

Suzanne Karrer, while giving an insight into the rulemaking process the state must go through, explained that the Department of Revenue must remove references putting bet limits to $100 that will soon become ineffective starting from May and clean up the language.

Quoting the Director of the Colorado Division of Gaming, Dan Hartman, Karrer opined that casinos won’t be free to add more games without getting approval from the commission.

The newly opened Barstool Sportsbook has gained immense popularity with the Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa in Black Hawk since it was opened in November, according to the report released on Black Hawk, Colorado, on January 6, 2021.

Black Hawk assured the citizens that Vegas-style gaming will be experienced in the city in May after the council has given its approval for new games such as roulette and baccarat in addition to lifting bet limits.

The approval of Amendment 77 by voters in November empowered the gaming towns to alter the face of gambling in their regions, and by extension, the Colorado gaming industry.

Coloradans living in the metro area will find the new gaming style very appealing, according to Ron Engels, the outgoing Gilpin County commissioner. Central City and Black Hawk are both situated within Gilpin County.

Engels said further that Denver is second to Colorado among the feeder markets for Las Vegas. The casino operators in the region who desire to seize the opportunity to extend their limits are hoping that an increasing number of people will take residence in Denver.

Engels isn’t blind to the potential impact on the community if it eventually becomes a national or international tourist attraction or destination.

He noted that before the duo of Central City and Black Hawk transformed into gambling towns, only a four-room jail was situated in Gilpin County. However, since gaming took over the community, between 75 and 80 inmates were incarcerated in the justice center a month ago. Gaming was accountable for 85% of these jail activities, according to Engels.

He went further to explain that if the Amendment has an impact in the region, the justice center may be expanded to the tune of between $10 and $15 million.

Engels is optimistic that the community will feel a minimal negative impact of increased gaming activities. Engels and other leaders have unanimously agreed that the increase will have a profound positive impact on their finances too. The corresponding market growth will increase tax distribution as well.

The Amendment 77’s fiscal analysis reveals that the local and state revenues will also increase, drawing the conclusion from the approximately $10 million increase in gambling tax annual income occasioned by Amendment 50.

Amendment 77 complies with the state’s gambling law that dedicated 78% of tax revenue in the state to the colleges in the community.

The level of risk individuals wish to take limits the appeal for unlimited bet amounts. Hence, removing bet caps doesn’t mean that $25-a-hand bets will be replaced by $5,000-a-hand blackjack tables.

Penn National Gaming Incorporated owns Ameristar. The conglomerate has properties in over 20 states, as per Demeule. While most gamers are not willing to contest with the whales or high-stakes players, Demeule is optimistic that Penn’s clients across the country may give a second thought to Colorado where they have been kept away from gambling, thanks to previous bet limits.

He said that the company has a great product in Colorado and expectedly, Coloradans will welcome this new development with an open hand as they seize the opportunity to have a wonderful gaming experience that was previously alien to the region.

Jeremy Fey, Central City Mayor, noted that profit will rise as gross stakers increase in the city. According to the Major, that’s a pointer to the potential benefit for the community as it attracts new operators to most of the towns whose commercial vacancy rate stands at 60%.

Black Hawk and Central City are neighbors. Nevertheless, they have adopted different gambling approaches. Fey noted that casino operators are limited to four-story buildings in the city while Black Hawk accommodates Ameristar tower boasting of some 536 hotel rooms. This is in addition to Monarch Casino resort Spa and the town’s other massive properties.

Nevertheless, Fey is comfortable with the legislation. He sees it as a tool Colorado needs for economic development and hopes for a brighter future after a historic building abandoned for decades was recently sold.