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Gambling in Colorado – Poker, Casino & Betting

Colorado Gambling Laws
Gambling in Colorado – Poker, Casino & Betting
Last Updated November 2, 2020

While online poker relatively recently joined the list of gambling types in the state of Colorado, the game of poker and its assorted brethren have been residents of Colorado practically since Americans have.  Cities like Black Hawk, Cripple Creek, and Central City support dozens of land-based casino gambling sites among them. The days of frontier gambling may be in the past, but online poker and online gambling are opening up new horizons for Colorado gamblers – horizons we’ll explore as we look at the law, the facts and the recent developments regarding legal online poker in the state of Colorado.

Online Poker in Colorado

As a state that hosts a fair amount of land based casinos and live poker, Colorado is a natural hub for online poker as well.  The enthusiasm for the game is evident in the big turnouts and steadily growing games across Colorado’s poker rooms, and it’s certain that thousands more are playing poker online, perhaps in even bigger games.

Online poker players from Colorado should only use poker sites that are licensed and properly regulated.  By sticking with legal poker sites, poker players have a better shot at secure, fair games and reliable banking that gives them quick access to their money.  Our top regulated poker rooms for Colorado:

Are There Any Poker Sites Open to Colorado?

If you’re from Colorado and want to sign up at an online poker room for real-money play, you won’t have much trouble finding a suitable match.  All of the major US-friendly online poker sites accept players from the state of Colorado.  The picture isn’t quite so rosy for other states – such as neighbor Utah – but in the state of Colorado you won’t have a problem locating an online poker site that will let you sign up, deposit and play for real money.  We strongly suggest narrowing your list of potential rooms to the legally regulated online poker rooms on our real money poker page.

Is  Poker or Gambling Legal in Colorado?

Poker players from CO are naturally curious about how the state’s gambling laws could apply to the relatively new forum of peer-to-peer online poker.  While we don’t claim expertise on the issue, we have assembled some useful resources to help you navigate the question of whether playing online poker is legal in Colorado.
Here a a few relevant aspects of Colorado code that could pertain to Internet poker:

It is a crime to engage in any gambling, which is defined as

“risking any money, credit, deposit, or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device, or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, over which the person taking a risk has no control” (Section 18-10-102(2))

With exceptions made for social gambling and authorized gambling.

The penalty for engaging in gambling as a player in Colorado: A fine.  Gambling is a class 1 petty offense in Colorado (Section 18-10-103(1)).  Far stricter penalties are assigned to those who are in the business of operating or promoting illegal gambling.

Colorado law makes it a crime if someone to

“knowingly transmits or receives gambling information by telephone, telegraph, radio, semaphore, or other means or knowingly installs or maintains equipment for the transmission” (Section 18-10-106(1))

Proving a crime was committeed is a key concern for Colorado law enforcement. Gambling devices like slot machines and roulette machines therefore garner a lot of attention from authorities, because they serve as hard proof of an illegal gambling operator’s intentions. We were unable to locate opinion or case law clarifying whether or not this could apply to someone playing Colorado online poker, but it appears to target operators and not players.

Players reviewing Colorado law are often confused by the crime of “professional gambling,” (Section 18-10-103(2)) which sounds as if it might apply to a full-time poker player.  This charge is actually reserved for individuals who are operating of profiting from the operation of illegal gambling activity.

Colorado code instructs officials to “liberally” construe anti-gambling laws (Section 18-10-101(2)), which essentially means that the laws should be applied broadly assume ambiguous activity not directly described by code, but similar in nature to described actions, to be illegal.

The issue of online poker’s legality from a player perspective is a tricky one in every state, and Colorado is no exception.  The state’s laws are broad, somewhat dated and exceedingly vague on important points.  For this reason, we suggest that players review Colorado code for themselves to gain a stronger understanding of the law as it might apply to online poker.  As is always the case, it is imperative to seek professional legal advice before you do anything that could involve criminal exposure.

Will Colorado Regulate Online Poker?

The state seems closer than many, but not as close as some, when it comes to this question.  Back in May of 2012, CardPlayer reported that a draft bill seeking to regulate online poker had been written by the Colorado Gaming Association, but there have been no updates since that report.

Still, recent gambling expansion efforts in the state have been fairly successful, as casino resorts now dot the landscape in cities like Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, and Central City. With the CGA on board, it seems as if Colorado would quickly jump on board as other states roll out products – if they don’t end up taking the lead themselves.

Colorado Gambling Facts

Like many Western states, Colorado’s history with commercial gambling is intertwined with a mining boom, winding back well into the 19th century and littered with tales of fortunes won and lost, of games crooked and fair.  Fast-forward a century or two, and gambling continues to play a major role in the state’s economy – a role greatly expanded in 1982 when the state authorized a lottery and again in 1990 when the state amended its constitution to permit casino resort gambling.

Colorado has more than its share of brick-and-mortar casinos. Five cities have gaming dens, including Black Hawk (15), Central City (6), and Cripple Creek (11). Black Hawk contains interesting venues like Wild Card Saloon, Golden Gulch, and Sasquatch Casino. Cripple Creek boasts land-based casinos like Bronco Billy’s, Century Casino, and the Colorado Grande. Central City features gaming venues like Johnny Z’s Casino, the Ameristar Casino Black Hawk, and the Grand Z Casino Hotel.

Regulated Gambling Options in Colorado

For a state that embraced regulated gambling a relatively short time ago, Colorado has no shortage of options for gamblers.  There’s the state lottery, pari-mutuel wagering, tribal gambling choices and multiple casinos to choose from.  Colorado casinos used to have restrictions that allowed patrons to make very small maximum wagers, but those restrictions have since been eased multiple times and wagering limits are now more in line with a typical casino experience for the majority of gamblers.

Does Colorado Offer any Regulated Online Gambling?

While there are regulated poker rooms accepting players from Colorado, the state of Colorado does not regulate any online gambling sites or offer any licenses for online poker sites in CO and so on.  It does seem likely that Colorado will regulate some form of online gambling in the near future (most likely poker), but at the time of this article there are no online gambling sites licensed or regulated directly by the state of Colorado.

All Poker and Gambling Laws by State

Colorado in the News

Colorado Gambling Resources

Colorado Division of Gaming .  The central resource for all of the information you’ll ever need about gambling in Colorado.  Access laws, regulations, forms and plenty of consumer information regarding casinos, financials and other details that make up the picture for gambling in Colorado.

Colorado Gaming Association .  Trade group that represents the casino industry in Colorado.  Said to be primary force behind the push for regulated online poker in the state.

Colorado.com.  Tourist portal contains information (and special offers) for those seeking to visit one of the state’s casinos.

Colorado’s Place in Poker History

There aren’t a lot of famous female poker players today, but there were even less in the 1800s.  One notable exception to that rule was Colorado’s own Alice Tubbs, aka “Poker Alice.”  Alice was known not just for her skills at the table , but for favoring trips to New York fashion salons as a use for her winnings.  Colorado has also served as the backdrop for a more modern poker drama over the legal definition of poker, with the state Supreme Court ultimately declining to hear arguments that poker is, in fact, a game of skill.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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