While the year might be new, the goals of Colorado Springs law enforcement has not changed in respect to illegal gambling.
The Colorado Springs Police Department ended 2023 by reporting raids on four illegal gambling houses. Then, in the first couple weeks of 2024, it says it has conducted another four raids as the crackdown continues.
Colorado Springs authorities hoped businesses would police themselves during an educational phase. Now, police say ignorance of the law is no longer an excuse and raids of businesses suspected of housing illegal gaming machines will continue.
Law enforcement makes four busts in the first two weeks of 2024
All legal commercial gambling in Colorado takes place at Black Hawk casinos, Central City casinos and Cripple Creek casinos, located in the three towns that have exclusivity to house gaming institutions. Online casinos in Colorado are illegal, as are gaming machines operating outside the three approved cities or at the two tribal-run casinos in Southwest Colorado.
On Jan. 4, detectives from the Colorado Springs Metro Narcotics Unit executed a search warrant against a facility suspected of being an illegal casino. The search began just after noon and resulted in 32 slot machines and 11 simulated gaming machines being confiscated. The raid took place at the 100 North Circle Drive building, which is close to Pikes Peak Avenue.
The raid uncovered information about another illegal gambling site. A search warrant was then executed on that property. Authorities found nearly $40,000 in cash, a shotgun, three pistols and other evidence.
Less than a week later, the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) used a search warrant to investigate a business off East Platte Avenue on the 600 block of Peterson Road. That investigation led to 19 slot machines and two simulated gaming machines being confiscated. Another search warrant led to nearly $55,000 in cash being found along with other evidence that was not revealed as the investigation is still ongoing.
CSPD put out a statement after the second set of raids.
“CSPD would also like to remind the public that offering slot machines and simulated gaming devices/machines is illegal in [the] city of Colorado Springs.”
CSPD says ignorance is no longer an excuse for those housing illegal machines
CSPD knew there could be confusion surrounding the legal status of some of these machines. Sometimes, these machines are marketed as legal options to help businesses boost profits despite being illegal. In order to get ahead of any confusion, law enforcement went through an education phase before raids began.
Despite its efforts, some businesses either ignored the warnings or found them baseless and continued offering the illegal gambling machines.
According to CSPD Lt. Mark Chacon, ignorance is no longer a viable excuse for businesses found in violation.
“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.”
Chacon made it clear these illegal gambling sites are a breeding ground for additional crime. Cleaning it all up could reduce many different types of crimes, not just illegal gambling, he said.
“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.”