Colorado Gambling Law Tweaked to Ban Skill-Gaming Machines

Posted on: May 8, 2018, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: June 15, 2018, 02:54h.

The days of Colorado’s sweepstakes arcades are numbered. Legislation passed by both chambers and currently winging its way to the Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk will close the “loophole” that allowed skill-gaming arcades to flourish outside of the state’s three designated gambling zones: Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek.

Colorado skill-gaming
Senator Bob Gardner believes Colorado gambling law was clear on skill gaming, which is why he had to sponsor a bill to have the law changed to ban skill-gaming. If only life were that simple for the rest of us. (Image:

Detractors argue the arcade machines, which have sprung up around the state in recent years and are typically played for very small states, are de facto casino slots, while arcade operators have argued they’re games of skill for cash prizes that do not constitute gambling.

It seems the operators were right because lawmakers in Denver had to pass a bill to redefine what constituted a gambling machine in the first place in order to legally ban them.

The new bill reclassifies a gambling machine as a device that allows the player to win “anything of value” using elements of chance and skill.

A Bridge Too Far?

For some this is overreach. Colorado Politics recently wondered if winning a Teddy bear at the county fair would now constitute illegal gambling.

Senator Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village) agreed the measure goes too far.

What the people who are opposed to House Bill 1234 have experienced is an interpretation of the law that declared them to be criminals, seizure of their equipment, in some cases destruction of their equipment (and) the arrest of some of the operators,” he said.

In Colorado gambling is strictly regulated. In 1990, voters approved legal gambling in the three designated communities, but maximum bets and payouts are limited. There are also two Native American casinos, operated by the Mountain Ute and Southern Ute tribes.

What’s Bob’s Beef?

Speaking to Colorado Politics in February, Trey Franzoy, who runs Charlie Chedda’s arcade and internet café in Colorado Springs, described the dynamics of the machines versus real casino slots. His property was raided in 2015 and he was charged with the “unlawful offering of a simulated gambling device.”

If you’ve ever played a regular slot machine, you can just hit play. It will spin and stop and give you whatever you won,” he said. “It’s just a pure game of chance. Whoever hit ‘Play’ at that particular moment in time is the player that’s going to win.

“The way our games are different is they are a pattern recognition game. You’re having to pick the winning pattern. Nothing is going to be given to you.”

But Senator Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said anyone who had a “beef” about “these so-called games of skill” had a “problem with the Constitution of Colorado.”

“Apparently the law, as clear as it is to me, is not as clear to some,” he said about a law that was previously not clear until he lobbied to change it so it would be more in line with his own point of view.

“Apparently, some people can be confused. House Bill 1234 really enables and enacts the Constitution, and that’s all it really does,” he claimed.