Colorado Gambling Laws 2023 Explained & Decoded

Colorado is home to a vibrant and diverse gambling scene, offering a wide array of options for those seeking a thrilling wager. From horse racing and casinos to social gambling and charitable games, the state boasts a rich gambling landscape. However, behind the excitement lies a complex web of laws and regulations that govern these activities. In this article, we will explore the biggest Colorado gambling laws, shedding light on the various aspects of gambling and the legal framework surrounding them.

Colorado Gambling Laws

Understanding Gambling Regulations in Colorado

  • 🎰 Colorado has a liberal stance on gambling, with a variety of legal gaming activities including casinos, lottery, horse racing, and charitable gaming. 
  • 🏇 Online gambling in Colorado is limited to horseracing.
  • 💸 Tax revenue from gambling in Colorado is estimated at $232 million, with total gambling revenue from casinos estimated at $1.1 billion.
  • 🚭 Colorado bans indoor smoking at casinos, with the exception of those on reservation lands.
  • 🎟 The state lottery, which began in 1982, offers instant games and lotto tickets. The minimum age to play the lottery is 18.
  • 🎲 There are specific cities in Colorado where casinos are legal: Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. Native American tribes can also operate casinos on their reservation lands.
  • 💵 Colorado casinos must pay 20% of their gaming revenue to the state in the form of taxes.
  • 💼 Daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel operate in the state, claiming that they qualify as skill games under Colorado law.
  • 🃏 The state legalized casinos to revive the economy in certain mountain towns. All casinos can operate 24 hours a day, and the betting limit is $100.
  • 🗺 There are 43 B&M Casinos, 9 Poker Rooms, and 2 Indian Casinos in Colorado.

Understanding Colorado’s Gambling Laws

Gambling laws in Colorado have been designed to provide a controlled environment where citizens can partake in various forms of betting activities. These laws, enshrined in the state’s constitution and statutory provisions, cover a broad spectrum of activities deemed as gambling.

Overview of Gambling Activities

Under Colorado law, gambling 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. This encompasses activities such as casinos, poker games, lotteries, bingo, horse and dog racing, and sports betting.

Code Sections Relevant to Gambling

Colorado’s gambling laws are primarily governed by Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The relevant code sections include Article 10, which addresses gambling offenses, and Article 12, which regulates the Colorado Lottery. Additionally, the Colorado Limited Gaming Act, found in Article 47.1, establishes the framework for limited-stakes gaming in the state. These code sections provide the legal foundation for the gambling landscape in Colorado.

Specifics of Colorado Gambling Laws

The specifics of Colorado gambling laws are key to understanding what types of gambling are permitted, and under what circumstances they are allowed.

Betting on Horse and Dog Racing

In Colorado, parimutuel wagering on horse and dog races is permitted under the supervision of the Colorado Racing Commission. Off-track betting is also allowed, provided it is carried out in authorized locations. Additionally, online race betting is legal. Colorado law specifies that a portion of the proceeds must go towards supporting the racing industry and breeders.

Key PointsDetails
Regulatory BodyColorado Racing Commission
Types of BettingParimutuel, Off-track, Online
Allocation of ProceedsRacing Industry and Breeders

Casinos in Colorado

Casinos are legal in Colorado but are restricted to certain cities. Full-fledged casinos, with slot machines, poker, and blackjack, are only allowed in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. Colorado law also permits a limited form of gambling in its Tribal casinos, in line with federal laws.

Cities with full-fledged casinos:

Colorado Online Gambling

Online Sports Betting

Colorado online gambling laws have evolved significantly over the years. While it’s true that online gambling in Colorado was initially limited to horse racing, recent changes have expanded the spectrum of legal online gambling in the state.

As of 2020, Colorado legalized sports betting, including online and mobile sports betting. This means that residents and visitors can now place bets on various sports events through authorized online platforms. Despite this change, other forms of online casino gaming, such as online poker and online slots, remain prohibited under Colorado law.

Colorado also permits several other gambling-related activities, albeit under strict regulations.

Social Gambling and Charitable Games

Social gambling, defined as games among private groups where no one makes a profit aside from the winnings, is legal in Colorado. Charitable organizations can also conduct games like bingo and raffles as fundraising activities, provided they secure the necessary permits.

Bingo and Raffles

The Secretary of State in Colorado regulates bingo and raffles conducted for charitable purposes. Charitable organizations must comply with reporting and licensing requirements to ensure transparency and fairness in these activities. Bingo and raffles provide a means for nonprofits to raise funds while offering participants a chance to win prizes.

Zoning and Regulatory Oversight

Colorado’s gambling laws extend beyond the activities themselves to include zoning regulations and regulatory bodies that oversee the industry.

Separation of Casinos from Residential Areas

Zoning laws in Colorado require a separation between casinos, racetracks, and certain sensitive areas such as schools and residential neighborhoods. These laws aim to mitigate potential negative impacts associated with gambling and ensure a harmonious coexistence between the gambling industry and communities.

Indian Gaming Regulatory Act

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) is a federal law that applies to Indian reservation casinos, including those in Colorado. This legislation provides a framework for regulating gaming on Native American lands and establishes the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) as the regulatory authority. The IGRA governs the operation, management, and oversight of tribal casinos in Colorado.

Colorado Gaming Regulations And Statutory Requirements

Colorado has become a recognized hub for both commercial and tribal gaming, offering various options for residents and visitors alike. Delving deeper into the rules and structures, we see a clear outline of regulatory bodies, licensing requisites, and revenue-handling systems that guide this industry.

Regulatory Oversight

Commercial Gaming Oversight:

  • Regulating Body: The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission has been set forth by the Colorado Revised Statutes. It is encompassed within the Department of Revenue, particularly the Division of Gaming.
  • Role and Responsibility: The commission is vested with several duties:
  1. Overseeing the conduct of limited gaming.
  2. Imposing penalties for the breach of the Limited Gaming Act.
  3. Suggesting modifications to the current act.
  4. Administering licenses related to limited gaming.
  5. Formulating essential rules and regulations.
  6. Assessing and implementing fees relevant to limited gaming.
  • Division of Gaming’s Inception: Established through the Colorado Revised Statutes in Section 44-30-302, this division ensures the proper management and adherence to the rules of limited gaming in Colorado.

Tribal Gaming Oversight:

  • Authorized Tribes: Colorado is home to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, both having the sole authority to manage Class III gaming in the state.
  • Tribal Regulatory Body: An exclusive Tribal Gaming Commission supervises, controls, and maintains the safety of all Class III gaming operations.
  • State-level Monitoring: Both the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission and the Colorado Division of Gaming collaborate to ensure the tribes’ gaming operations align with the compact’s provisions.
  • Compact Details: The compact provides a set of guidelines and permissions for the tribes:
  1. Defining the gaming facility’s size and number of gaming devices.
  2. The ability to enter into management contracts for casino operations.
  3. An evergreen effect to the compacts, terminable only through mutual agreement.


Commercial Gaming:

  • Operator License: Colorado sanctions land-based commercial casinos, categorizing them as operators and retailers. Depending on the stakeholder’s interest percentage, license fees can fluctuate between $9,200 to $15,400 for new applications and $3,700 to $7,400 for biennial renewals.
  • Supplier License: Slot machine manufacturers and distributors are liable for application and renewal fees, ranging between $7,400 to $14,800 and $3,700 to $7,400, respectively.

Tribal Gaming:

  • State Reimbursement: Tribes compensate the state for expenses related to compact duties based on a detailed quarterly invoice from the state gaming agency.
  • Facility License: Each gaming venue is licensed by the tribal commission, with individual tribes determining their licensing costs. The compact identifies such facilities as places on tribal lands where Class III gaming is conducted.
  • Operator License: The tribal commission licenses gaming operators, with each tribe setting the license fee. Operators can include entities or individuals managing gaming at tribal enterprises or those with a revenue-based income.
  • Manufacturer License: The tribal commission also licenses gaming service manufacturers and suppliers, with the license fee structure decided by each tribe.

Taxation & Tribal Revenue Sharing

Commercial Gaming:

  • Tax Imposition: The Gaming Division of the Department of Revenue in Colorado evaluates and fixes the gaming tax rate annually. However, any increment beyond rates set as of July 1, 2008, necessitates statewide voter approval. Licensees are mandated to pay up to 40% of their adjusted gross proceeds from gaming activities.
  • Tax Slab:
  • 0.25% for AGP between $0 – $2 million
  • 2% for AGP from $2 million to $5 million
  • (And so on…)
  • Tax Allocation: Taxes collected are dispersed to various entities like the State Historical Society (28%), counties like Gilpin and Taller (12%), cities including Blackhawk and Central City (10%), and the State General Fund (50%). The State General Fund has specifically earmarked allocations for tourism promotion, industry acceleration, local impact, and more.
  • Promotional Credits: From January 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024, a deduction cap of 2.5% has been set for free bets, set to decrease in the coming years.
  • Tax on Winnings: Casino winnings are deemed taxable income, as per the Colorado Division of Revenue guidelines.

Tribal Gaming:

  • Revenue Handling: There’s no revenue-sharing clause in the tribal compacts. However, IGRA mandates that tribes allocate gaming revenue towards tribal operations, welfare, economic upliftment, charitable donations, and local government operations.
  • Winnings Taxation: The state refrains from withholding a share from gambling winnings. Nevertheless, federal regulations might dictate W-2G form issuance by tribal casinos and possible withholding under specific circumstances.

Responsible Gaming

Commercial Gaming

  • Statutory Contributions: Colorado law mandates that 2% of the total revenues, with a minimum of $100,000, garnered under the Colorado Limited Gaming Act be channeled towards the state’s gambling addiction account.
  • Self-Exclusion Programs: Presently, there is no compulsory self-exclusion scheme established by the state of Colorado.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Colorado casinos are allowed to serve free alcoholic beverages to their customers.
  • Advertising Norms: Licensed operators are explicitly barred from disseminating any deceitful or misleading promotions related to their gaming endeavors.
  • Display Mandates On-Site: Colorado has no established legal requirement for specific displays on gaming premises.
  • Age Restrictions: To enter the gaming sections of casinos in Colorado, individuals must be 21 years or older.

Tribal Gaming

  • Statutory Contributions: Tribal gaming compacts and ordinances in Colorado have not stipulated any particular funding mandates.
  • Self-Exclusion Programs: Tribal casinos in Colorado currently do not offer any self-exclusion services.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Tribal casinos do not provide customers with complimentary alcoholic beverages.
  • Promotional Guidelines: While the Ute Mountain Ute tribal compact and gaming ordinance lack explicit advertising regulations, the Southern Ute compact emphasizes that misleading promotions are prohibited.
  • On-Site Display Regulations: There are no established on-premise display rules within tribal gaming compacts or ordinances.
  • Age Requirements: To engage in Class III gaming, participants need to be at least 21 years of age. Additionally, tribal casinos can operate uninterrupted, even on public holidays.

Other Regulations

Commercial Gaming

  • Equipment Testing: The Division of Gaming, specifically the Field Operations Unit and Technical Systems Group, offers guidelines and clarifications to independent testing labs responsible for the evaluation of all gaming devices and systems across the state.
  • Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Norms: As per U.S. federal law, commercial and tribal casino operators, alongside card clubs, must adhere to certain legislations to counteract money laundering and related financial misconduct, such as financing terrorism.
  • Equipment Shipment: Before any gaming equipment is shipped within Colorado, the Division of Gaming must be informed.
  • Credit Facilities: Offering credit to patrons is prohibited in Colorado’s commercial gaming sector.
  • Smoke-Free Zones: Indoor smoking is banned in all gaming facilities in Colorado, promoting a healthier gaming environment.
  • Cashless Gaming and Cryptocurrency: Colorado allows cashless gaming. It also provides flexibility for customers to deposit cryptocurrency, which can subsequently be exchanged for cash in casinos.

Tribal Gaming

  • Testing Provisions: Tribal compacts necessitate the inspection and verification of gaming machines by the tribal gaming commission before they are installed. However, the process can be bypassed if a similar device has already been approved within Colorado.
  • Shipment Requirements: Any shipment or transfer of gambling devices must be distinctly labeled, revealing the contents and both sender and receiver’s details. Furthermore, slot machine distributors or producers must share shipment details with the tribal gaming commission.
  • Political Donations: Tribal compacts do not impose any restrictions on political donations from entities involved in gaming.
  • Credit Facilities: Tribal casinos in Colorado are not permitted to provide credit to their patrons.
  • Smoking Policies: Unlike commercial casinos, tribal gaming properties in Colorado aren’t subject to any smoking ban.
  • Alternative Payment Methods: Tribal casinos allow for cashless gaming. They may also permit cryptocurrency deposits, enhancing customer convenience.

Sports Betting

  • Licensed Operators: As of 2019, Colorado’s 33 licensed casinos have the privilege to seek a master license, empowering them to host sports betting both in-house and through online platforms. This privilege extends to Colorado’s Class III gaming tribes.
  • Online Betting: Mobile or online sports betting is permissible in Colorado, but each casino can operate under a singular, distinct brand or “skin”.
  • Financial Aspects: The application for a master license comes at a fee of $2,000, renewable biennially. Separate licenses for “sports-betting operators” or “internet sports-betting operators” are priced at $1,200, also renewable every two years. An annual Sports Betting Operations Fee is levied, with the rates for FY2023 specified for different categories of operators. A 10% tax rate applies to sports-betting revenue, with provisions for certain deductions.
  • Restrictions: Betting on high-school sports events is strictly forbidden. When it comes to collegiate sports, only proposition bets are restricted.
  • Official Data & Integrity: Current regulations do not necessitate the usage of official league data, nor do they provide an integrity fee to sports leagues.


Colorado’s gambling laws encompass diverse activities, each with its own set of regulations and restrictions. From horse racing and casinos to social gambling and charitable games, the state offers numerous avenues for entertainment and wagering. Navigating the legal landscape is crucial for both gamblers and operators to ensure compliance and a safe gambling environment. By understanding the most extensive Colorado gambling laws, individuals can engage in these activities responsibly and enjoy the excitement they bring while respecting the boundaries set by the state.



The Colorado Division of Gaming is a regulatory body under the Department of Revenue. It is responsible for the regulation of casinos and the gaming industry in Colorado.

Various types of gambling are legal in Colorado. This includes casinos, horse racing, the state lottery, charitable gaming, and sports betting. Online gambling is limited to horse racing and sports betting.

No, online casino games such as poker, slots, and blackjack are prohibited under Colorado law.

Online sports betting in Colorado is regulated by the Colorado Division of Gaming. This includes ensuring compliance with all rules and regulations related to online sports betting.

The Limited Gaming Control Commission is a five-member board responsible for promulgating the rules and regulations governing limited gaming in Colorado. They also issue gaming licenses and ensure compliance with all rules and regulations.

The legal age to participate in gambling activities in Colorado varies depending on the type of gambling. For lottery games, the minimum age is 18. For casinos and horse racing, individuals must be at least 21 years old. For bingo and raffles run by charitable organizations, the minimum age can be as low as 18, but the organization can choose to set a higher age limit.