Colorado Springs Cracks Down On Illegal Gambling Operations

Written By T.J. McBride on 12/18/2023
Photo of a police car with lights on a story about illegal gambling busts in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs law enforcement has made it clear. If a business is housing illegal gambling machines in the city south of Denver, it will be raided and  the illicit gaming devices will be confiscated.

Earlier this year, the Colorado Springs Police Department sent out notices to business owners suspected of possessing illegal gambling machines. They were told to get rid of the machines or expect to be raided. Some operators chose to follow that guidance, but those that ignored the warning have been raided and had machines seized.

The crackdowns are not just happening in Colorado Springs, either. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office claims that all “gray casinos” in the Grand Junction area have been shut down in the last year.

Colorado Springs Police say some illegal businesses reopened after raids

Colorado casino gambling is limited to just three towns: Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. Any in-person casino gaming outside of those three towns is illegal.

Four establishments housing illegal gambling machines were raided by the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) between April and November. The first wave led to 130 illegal slots-style machines being confiscated.

A number of the raided facilities reopened despite having slot machines seized, the CSPD said. That led to another round of raids, which resulted in another 120 illegal machines being confiscated.

CSPD Lt. Mark Chacon said operators at the establishments can’t use ignorance as a defense.

“All of them knew what they were doing and still continued to do it. Hence, why, in November we executed about four search warrants where we actually took the gaming devices, which were the slot machines and simulated gambling machines.”

Violent crimes and narcotic crimes are more common around illegal gambling establishments, Chacon told Fox 21 news.

“These places do bring a lot of criminal activity, we see that … within our calls for service in those areas. We also see that with the complaints that we receive from businesses that are operating in the same area. A lot of drug activity, a lot of other violent type of crimes that occur in those areas, and so that’s one of our main focuses, is trying to reduce that crime.”

Grand Junction is also cracking down on illegal gambling businesses

Colorado Springs is not the only town in The Centennial State cracking down on illegal gambling facilities. The Mesa County Sherriff’s Office (MCSO) says it has shuttered all illegal gambling operations in the Grand Junction area on the Western Slope.

These businesses marketed themselves as legitimate to the public and have been operating in Grand Junction for several years, the MCSO said.

“These types of gaming establishments began popping up throughout Mesa County as far back as 2017, creating a complex and unexplored problem. Although many of them presented themselves as legitimate businesses, investigators discovered that not only were many of the gaming machines illegal, but these types of businesses were attracting large amounts of additional criminal activity.”

Grand Junction removing these illegal gaming areas was a big hit with the community. According to MCSO Sgt. Brian Eldridge, when a business called 777 was shut down, neighboring business owners thanked officers.

“777 on North Avenue has been vacated and is officially no longer in operation. During our visit this afternoon, we were greeted by every surrounding business owner with compliments and celebration. It was humbling to watch them rejoice in reclaiming their piece of this wonderful county. The manager at the post office was brought to tears when we assisted the maintenance man/property owner by removing the window decals and sign, officially signifying to all that the location is no longer open for business.”

The Fishin’ Hole was another gaming businesses targeted by the MCSO. Before resorting to raiding the facility, MCSO worked to break its lease, ending suspected illegal operations.

“The landlord and their attorney were provided the opportunity to mitigate and resolve the problems without official action. They opted to close their doors and vacate the property.”

The other three suspected illegal casinos operating in Mesa County – Spin N Win 2, Spin N Win 3 and Lucky Clifton – were all served search warrants and are no longer operational. It was joint operation between MCSO and Homeland Security Investigations.

Photo by Shutterstock
T.J. McBride Avatar
Written by
T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based writer and reporter with an extensive background in covering the NBA and Denver Nuggets. T.J. is Southern California native who provides news and analysis on the legal gambling industry across a number of Catena Media's regional US sites.

View all posts by T.J. McBride