Analysis: Allowing Colorado Casinos To Give Credit A Really Bad Idea

Written By Darren Cooper on 05/19/2023
Colorado bill to allow casinos to offer a line of credit is terrible legislation.

Colorado’s proposed bill allowing casinos to extend credit to customers is like giving problem gamblers a deeper pool to drown in.

While there are multiple reasons to go to a Colorado casino, and we extol the virtues on plenty, we also know the best way to gamble is with your head. It’s a losing game to exceed one’s financial capabilities.

Colorado Bill SB23-259, “Extension of Credit for Limited Gaming,” would do just that. It would give problem gamblers a new avenue to create more debt, another way for them to dig a deeper hole of despair.

Many gamblers aided by bank ATM limits

On the surface, allowing casinos to offer lines of credit doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Players who visit one of the over 40 casinos in the state want to have a good time. So, they take out some cash from an ATM. Then, maybe they lose and want to take out some more.

The thing is, most banks allow only a limited amount of money to be taken from an ATM in a 24-hour period. Unless a gambler came into a casino with a large wad of cash, they are forced to suspend gambling until the next day.

This policy has probably kept millions of players from gambling away their rent money over the years. You can’t gamble what you can’t get your hands on.

Casino credit bill was dead before reps revived it

SB23-259 initially passed the Colorado Senate but then fell short in the House, 31-34.

Representative Richard Holtorf, who had previously spoken against the bill, called for the vote to be “reconsidered.” The measure then passed, 33-32.

Several lawmakers, including Rep. Jennifer Parenti, took to social media to complain about the revote. They alleged that special interests lobbied some representatives to change their votes.

The amended bill must pass the Senate. If the Senate approves it, it will still require approval from Gov. Jared Polis before being enacted in August.

There are safeguards and pitfalls in SB23-259

SB-23-259 would require casinos to determine whether a person is credit-worthy. Red flags, like a person owing child support, could result in a casino denying credit.

Also, customers must apply for credit in advance. The bill, however, does not specify how far in advance. Is it a day, an hour, or a minute?

The minimum amount of credit is $1,000. That’s the minimum amount! We aren’t talking about penny slot players here. The bill also gives the casino the ability to pursue all civil courses of action to recover unpaid credit.

The term “loan shark” comes to mind.

Colorado has several ways to help problem gamblers

Like several states, Colorado offers a self-exclusion list. Players can voluntarily block themselves from gambling. This is one of the most proven methods to combat gambling addiction.

Colorado also offers counseling for problem gamblers and regularly promotes gambling addiction awareness.

So why would Colorado lawmakers want to dial back on these worthwhile programs? Giving problem gamblers a chance to lose more money is insane.

Casinos are places where you go to have a good time. You play a few games, have a drink or two, and enjoy a delicious meal. Losing money is part of the entertainment expense. Winning is a bonus.

Casinos shouldn’t be in the credit business.

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Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He's won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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