Colorado Legislature Controversially Revives Casino Credit Bill

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Members of the Colorado state legislature controversially revived a thought-to-be-dead bill to allow the state’s casino operators to extend credit to customers.

Rep. Jennifer Parenti (D-Erie) on the House floor. She’s not a fan of how a casino credit bill was revived. (Image: YouTube)

Making the resurrection of SB23-259 all the more contentious are several important points. First, the House initially voted 34-31 to defeat the legislation. Second, another vote was requested under dubious circumstances, with some representatives who originally voted “nay” switching to “yay.” Finally, all this occurred late Saturday night.

Just to elaborate, what we saw tonight is that a bill failed, then a sponsor immediately left the chamber to talk to special interests in the lobby, came back in, spoke to a couple colleagues and got them to ask for a reconsideration,” tweeted Rep. Jennifer Parenti (D-Erie) late Saturday.

During a second vote, which some House members argue shouldn’t have taken place, three Republicans switched to “yes” from “no,” while Rep. Jenny Willford (D-Northglenn) changed her vote to “no” from “yes.”

Colorado Casino Credit Bill Revived Late Night

According to the Washington Post, democracy dies in darkness. Yet, politicians from both parties have a proclivity for using late nights to pass legislation constituents may not favor.

Such tactics have been used to push gaming-related legislation in other states. When Washington State passed sports betting in 2020, it was after Democrats called for a needless, late-night emergency legislative session. This resulted in a bill that favored tribal casino operators, many of whom contributed to politicians in the heavily Democrat state.

Today, Washington State only permits sports wagering in tribal casinos. As such, despite being the 13th-largest state by population, Washington is a nearly irrelevant part of the domestic sports betting landscape.

The situation is eerily similar in Colorado, where SB23-259 appears to have been granted new life after some policymakers allegedly met with gaming industry representatives in the lobby of the state house following the first vote.

The bill has bipartisan support and was co-authored by a Democrat and a Republican. Still, some Democrat lawmakers decried the revival of the casino credit legislation, claiming it took precedence over more compelling legislative needs. Their quarrel might be with their own party, as Democrats control 46 of 65 states in the Colorado House.

Inside the Colorado Casino Credit Bill

Colorado allows casino gaming in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek, with Black Hawk ranking as one of the fastest-growing gaming markets in the country.

If SB23-259 becomes law, casino operators could extend credit to clients, which is the norm at commercial and tribal gaming venues across the US. Opponents argue that if a bettor needs credit, he or she has probably exhausted their wagering funds and could worsen a bad situation with lines extended by gaming operators.

Supporters of the bill believe it would make Colorado more competitive with other markets, including Las Vegas. They also highlight provisions requiring gaming companies to evaluate a client’s personal credit score and whether or not they owe child support or other forms of restitution before extending credit.

Colorado casino operators include Bally’s (NYSE: BALY), Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR), Monarch Casino & Resort (NASDAQ: MCRI), and Penn Entertainment (NASDAQ: PENN), among others.

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