The house won big in Colorado last year.
Casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek combined to rake in a record $842.1 million in revenue in 2018, according to a new report from the American Gaming Association. The haul represented a 1.7 percent increase over the $828 million the industry banked in Colorado in 2017 and a nearly 13 percent increase over 2014.
The report, the Gaming Association’s 2019 edition of its annual “State of the States” roundup, found Colorado isn’t the only place where casinos are riding high. Twelve of 24 states with legalized commercial gambling saw record revenues last year, according to the research. In total, the industry brought in an all-time high of $41.7 billion in 2018, up 3.5 percent over 2017.
The Gaming Association pinpointed one factor in particular that contributed to gambling’s big year and it’s something that Colorado — for now at least — doesn’t have: sports betting.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal law that had prohibited gambling on sports in every state except for Nevada last May. Eight states made betting on sports legal in 2018. Revenue from that segment shot up 64 percent, hitting $430.2 million by the end of the year, according to the association’s research.
“More people than ever are experiencing the economic and social benefits of gaming in their communities, due in part to the expansion of legal sports betting across the country,” American Gaming Association president and CEO Bill Miller said.
Coloradans could soon join in the action. If they want to. This November, a statewide ballot question will ask voters if they want to tax sports gambling at 10 percent. Earlier this year, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 1327, which set up a framework for allowing sports gambling in the mountain town casinos as well as through mobile apps. If approved by voters, sports book tax collections would begin in May 2020.
“Coloradans should have the option of betting on the Nuggets in the playoffs or the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup,” House Majority Leader Alex Garnett said in an interview last month. The Denver Democrat sponsored HB 1327.
Amid all the record cash taken from slot machines and scooped up off felt-topped tables, state governments made out OK, too, bringing in $9.7 billion in gambling taxes last year, the report says. That figure that does not include income taxes, sales taxes or property taxes. In Colorado, government coffers received $125.5 million from gambling.
Colorado casinos’ 2018 only stacked up to 11th place among the 24 states with commercial casino gambling. Nevada was No. 1 with more than $11.9 billion in revenue. The report did not factor in revenues from Colorado’s two tribal casinos, or other gambling establishments such as animal racetracks or off-track betting locations.
It’s clear Coloradans love their slots and video poker machines. Electronic gaming accounted for $732 million — 87 percent — of all gambling revenue in the state.
Black Hawk, home to most of the state’s casinos, brought in $623.2 million of the total, but neighboring Central City saw the largest revenue growth in 2018. It’s $79 million in revenue was 9.9 percent more than what it brought in 2017. Cripple Creek had $139.9 million in revenue, which was a 3.8 percent increase from 2017.
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