History of Gambling in Colorado

Colorado was founded on adventurous and entrepreneurial spirits marked by the gold rush days of the 1800s. The influx of people saw a rise in gambling, with three of the town’s gambling houses located within miles of each other. However, along the line, gambling became illegal in the state, and it wasn’t until proposition DD was approved in 2019 that casinos could apply for a license to offer retail and online sports betting.

For those who don’t know their history, 2019 marked a turning point in the history of gambling in Colorado. But you’ll be surprised that it is a tree with roots reaching far back to the 1940s. Keep reading for details of the legal gambling history in colorado and some facts that may have been forgotten.

Gambling in Colorado – How It Started

Before technology and mouth-watering casino bonuses, there was the wild west. Unlike safe online casinos USA, there was hardly any law. In today’s world, play safe online casinos are legal and reliable. But with so few of them, you should check out the PlaySafe guide on how to enjoy a secure betting experience.

Colorado’s frontier towns were famous for attracting infamous outlaws and bold pioneers, and its history is lined with tales of Bat Masterson, Tom Horn, Doc Holliday, Butch Cassidy, Wyatt Earp, and many more visiting the Rockies for rewards.

As with most frontier towns, people socialized and earned real money in brothels, pubs, and salons. This act continued until modernization gradually led to a shift in ideology, and the government started enacting laws that prohibited all forms of gambling.

The first three gambling towns

Cripple Creek, Central City, and Black Hawk were the pioneer gambling towns in Colorado. After the civil war, gold rush, and world wars, the three towns needed a way to survive. Through innovation, they stumbled on gambling. Today, there are 33 state land-based and co online casinos in Colorado, with 13 in Black Hawk, 13 in Cripple Creek, and 8 in Central city. If you don’t know where to look, use the guide to acclimate yourself to one.

Let us pick our timeline from 1948 and work our way from the past to the present.

Gambling Timeline in Colorado

1948 – 1949 Pari-Mutuel Greyhound and Horse Racing

The most recent Colorado gambling history is traceable to 1948. In 1948, legislation created the Colorado Racing commission through an amendment. The amendment was possible through a 2-to-1 vote, and the commission became responsible for overseeing legal greyhounds, horse racing, and betting on them. Although the amendment was created in 1948, it wasn’t until 1949 before the first races took place.

1958 –Charitable Games and Bingo

In 1958, Colorado amended the laws to feature chparitable gaming, including Bingo, raffles,

and pull tabs. This was a citizen initiative, and the gaming was restricted to non-profit organizations alone to raise funds.

1982 – Lottery Creation

Colorado’s general assembly developed the State’s Lottery Commission to oversee the lottery within the state. It was also responsible for deciding the type of game to be permitted, the provision of regulatory rules, and the prizes of each game. The first games entered the market in 1983, and only scratch-off lottery tickets were permitted. Along the line, number drawings and multi-state lottery drawings became legal.

Source: Pexels

1990 – Limited Gaming Initiative

Lawmakers passed the Limited Gaming Initiative – a measure to restrict casino gambling and earnings to a few games and their operation in only three specific locations by a ballot vote of 57 – 42. As you can guess, the locations were Black Hawk, Cripple Creek, and Central City (this does not apply to Native American tribal casinos). More importantly, casinos could not open all day, and gamblers couldn’t bet more than $5. Not only this, but the laws permitted only slots, pokers, and blackjacks.

2000 – Multi-State Lottery Referendum

In 2000, a referendum passed by a vote allowed the selling of interstate lotteries, including Powerball and Mega Millions.

2009 – Max Bet Increase

In 2009, an amendment increased the maximum amount a player can bet to $100, in what appears to be an expansion of the betting industry and related activities. It also allowed roulette and craps to join the offerings in various casino locations.

2014 – An End to Greyhound Racing

The last time a greyhound race took place in Colorado was in 2008. Regardless, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a law that prohibited racing and wagering on greyhound dogs. The Governor also legalized Daily Fantasy Sports in 2016.

2019 – Retail and Mobile Sports Betting Became Legal

Voters narrowly approved the legalization of Sports Betting with Tax Revenue for the Water Project measure in 2019. Also referred to as Proposition DD, it paved the way for legal sports. The first live and online sportsbooks launched in 2020, and 15 online and 11 land-based operators have been licensed and approved since then.


There is surely a rich history of gambling in colorado, with laws spanning decades and generations. Although there is no talk of expanding the industry, you can enjoy what you have and gamble responsibly in your favorite land-based or online casino.

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