Colorado is a gambling-friendly state with a well-functioning casino industry. When the federal government passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, Colorado entered into compacts with both of the local Ute tribes. The first tribal casino opened in September 1992 near Towaoc, followed by a similar venue in 1993. In addition, the 1992 constitutional amendment allowed for the construction of 38 non-tribal gambling venues. Other than that, Colorado runs a lottery and three pari-mutuel facilities that offer betting on horse and dog races.
Unfortunately, local lawmakers don’t seem interested in introducing state-sanctioned online gambling to the Centennial State. The last push happened in 2013 and amounted to an internet poker bill being drafted behind the scenes. The proposed legislation didn’t even make it to the House floor, and no further attempts have been made since then. On a brighter note, DFS contests were legalized in 2016, although DFS operators are not much of a threat to the local casinos, which generate well over $200 million in revenue every month and pay a gaming tax to the state.
Playing on offshore sites is risky due to the fact that the general definition of gambling in Colorado is broad enough to cover internet games. Gambling is defined as “risking money or any other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or part upon lot, chance, or the happening or outcome of an event over which the person taking a risk has no control.” Engaging in unlawful gambling is considered a petty offense, but the penalties are quite severe – up to 6 months in jail and a fine as high as $500.
Gambling in Colorado is covered by Colorado Revised Statutes, §18-10-101 et seq., Colorado Revised Statutes, §12-60-101 et seq., and Colorado Revised Statutes, §12-47.1-101 et seq. The minimum gambling age is 21.
Colorado Revised Statutes
Colorado has legal low-stakes gaming in certain smaller, historical cities. Gaming operations in those cities are licensed and regulated by the Colorado Gaming Commission.
Colorado also permits recognized charities to hold bingos and raffles under the restrictive conditions set forth in its Bingos and Raffles Law, C.R.S. 12-9-101. Participating charities are required to secure a license from the Colorado Secretary of State’s licensing center.
The following statutes cover gambling that is not licensed and regulated.
A person is legally accountable as principal for the behavior of another constituting a criminal offense if, with the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense, he or she aids, abets, advises, or encourages the other person in planning or committing the offense.
18-10-101. Legislative declaration – construction.
(1) It is declared to be the policy of the general assembly, recognizing the close relationship between professional gambling and other organized crime, to restrain all persons from seeking profit from gambling activities in this state; to restrain all persons from patronizing such activities when conducted for the profit of any person; to safeguard the public against the evils induced by common gamblers and common gambling houses; and at the same time to preserve the freedom of the press and to avoid restricting participation by individuals in sport and social pastimes which are not for profit, do not affect the public, and do not breach the peace.
(2) All the provisions of this article shall be liberally construed to achieve these ends and administered and enforced with a view to carrying out the declaration of policy stated in subsection (1) of this section.
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Gain” means the direct realization of winnings; “profit” means any other realized or unrealized benefit, direct or indirect, including without limitation benefits from proprietorship, management, or unequal advantage in a series of transactions.
(2) “Gambling” means risking any money, credit, deposit, or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device, or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, over which the person taking a risk has no control, but does not include:
(a) Bona fide contests of skill, speed, strength, or endurance in which awards are made only to entrants or the owners of entries;
(b) Bona fide business transactions which are valid under the law of contracts;
(c) Other acts or transactions now or hereafter expressly authorized by law;
(d) Any game, wager, or transaction which is incidental to a bona fide social relationship, is participated in by natural persons only, and in which no person is participating, directly or indirectly, in professional gambling; or
(f) Any use of or transaction involving a crane game, as defined in section 12-47.1-103 (5.5), C.R.S.
(3) “Gambling device” means any device, machine, paraphernalia, or equipment that is used or usable in the playing phases of any professional gambling activity, whether that activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine; except that the term does not include a crane game, as defined in section 12-47.1-103 (5.5), C.R.S.
(4) “Gambling information” means a communication with respect to any wager made in the course of, and any information intended to be used for, professional gambling. In the application of this definition the following shall be presumed to be intended for use in professional gambling: Information as to wagers, betting odds, or changes in betting odds. Legitimate news reporting of an event for public dissemination is not gambling information within the meaning of this article.
(5) “Gambling premises” means any building, room, enclosure, vehicle, vessel, or other place, whether open or enclosed, used or intended to be used for professional gambling. In the application of this definition, any place where a gambling device is found is presumed to be intended to be used for professional gambling.
(6) “Gambling proceeds” means all money or other things of value at stake or displayed in or in connection with professional gambling.
(7) “Gambling record” means any record, receipt, ticket, certificate, token, slip, or notation given, made, used, or intended to be used in connection with professional gambling.
(8) “Professional gambling” means:
(a) Aiding or inducing another to engage in gambling, with the intent to derive a profit therefrom; or
(b) Participating in gambling and having, other than by virtue of skill or luck, a lesser chance of losing or a greater chance of winning than one or more of the other participants.
(9) “Repeating gambling offender” means any person who is convicted of an offense under section 18-10-103 (2) or sections 18-10-105 to 18-10-107 or sections 12-47.1-809 to 12-47.1-811 or 12-47.1-818 to 12-47.1-832 or 12-47.1-839, C.R.S., or sections 18-20-103 to 18-20-114 within five years after a previous misdemeanor conviction under these sections or a former statute prohibiting gambling activities, or at any time after a previous felony conviction under any of the mentioned sections. A conviction in any jurisdiction of the United States of an offense which, if committed in this state, would be professional gambling shall warrant a prosecution in this state as a repeating gambling offender.
(10) “Vintage slot machine” means any model slot machine, as defined in section 12-47.1-103 (26), C.R.S., that was introduced on the market prior to January 1, 1984.
18-10-103. Gambling – professional gambling – offenses.
(1) A person who engages in gambling commits a class 1 petty offense.
(2) A person who engages in professional gambling commits a class 1 misdemeanor. If he is a repeating gambling offender, it is a class 5 felony.
18-10-104. Gambling devices – gambling records – gambling proceeds.
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, all gambling devices, gambling records, and gambling proceeds are subject to seizure by any peace officer and may be confiscated and destroyed by order of a court acquiring jurisdiction. Gambling proceeds shall be forfeited to the state and shall be transmitted by court order to the general fund of the state.
(2) If a gambling device is a vintage slot machine and is not operated for gambling purposes for profit or for business purposes, it shall not be confiscated or destroyed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section. If a gambling device is confiscated and the owner shows that such gambling device is a vintage slot machine and is not used for gambling purposes, the court acquiring jurisdiction shall order such vintage slot machine returned to the person from whom it was confiscated.
18-10-105. Possession of a gambling device or record.
(1) Except as provided in subsection (1.5) of this section, a person who owns, manufactures, sells, transports, possesses, or engages in any transaction designed to affect the ownership, custody, or use of a gambling device or gambling record, knowing that it is to be used in professional gambling, commits possession of a gambling device or record.
(1.5) The sale, transportation, manufacture, and remanufacture of gambling devices, including the acquisition of essential parts therefor and the assembly of such parts, is permitted if such devices are sold, transported, manufactured, and remanufactured only for transportation in interstate or foreign commerce when such transportation is not prohibited by any applicable foreign, state, or federal law. Storage of gambling devices is also permitted but only for purposes of manufacturing, remanufacturing, and transporting such devices in interstate or foreign commerce when their transportation is not prohibited. Such activities may be conducted only by persons who have registered with the United States government pursuant to the provisions of chapter 24 of Title XV of the United States Code, as amended. Such gambling devices shall not be openly displayed, except to legal buyers, or sold for use in Colorado regardless of where purchased, nor manufactured, remanufactured, or stored for purposes of manufacture, remanufacture, and transportation in violation of any applicable state or federal law. For purposes of this subsection (1.5), “legal buyer” means a buyer who resides in another state or country which does not restrict the possession of the specific gambling device in question.
(2) Possession of a gambling device or record or violation of subsection (1.5) of this section is a class 2 misdemeanor. If the offender is a repeating gambling offender, it is a class 6 felony.
18-10-106. Gambling information.
(1) Whoever knowingly transmits or receives gambling information by telephone, telegraph, radio, semaphore, or other means or knowingly installs or maintains equipment for the transmission or receipt of gambling information commits a class 3 misdemeanor. If the offender is a repeating gambling offender, it is a class 6 felony.
(2) Facilities and equipment furnished by a public utility in the regular course of business, and which remain the property of the utility while so furnished, shall not be seized except in connection with an alleged violation of this article by the public utility and shall be forfeited only upon conviction of the public utility therefor.
The Colorado law firm Davis & Gilbert has posted the following conclusion about the State’s legislation regulating sweepstakes: “The detailed requirements of Colorado’s newest sweepstakes statute show that the Colorado Legislature strongly disapproves of unfair and deceptive tactics by sweepstakes sponsors. Due to the meticulous directives, it is likely that many sponsors will opt to exclude Colorado from direct mail solicitations for the simple reason that preparing a special mailing to comply with Colorado law may be too costly and time-consuming. Sponsors that decide to include Colorado in their sweepstakes are well-advised to be very familiar with the terms of this statute.”
Here are the requirements of the statute:
6-1-801. Legislative finding, declaration, and intent.
(1) The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that a vast number of sweepstakes and contests have been and are being directed to Colorado consumers; that Colorado consumers may have paid millions of dollars to purchase goods or services to enter sweepstakes and contests based on representations created by the sponsors of those sweepstakes and contests; that these sweepstakes and contests may be targeted to certain vulnerable Colorado consumers; that there is a compelling need to curtail and prevent the most deceptive practices in connection with the promotion of sweepstakes and contests; that there is a compelling need for more complete disclosure of rules and operation of sweepstakes and contests in which money or other valuable consideration may be solicited; that preventing the deceptive promotions of sweepstakes and contests is a matter vitally affecting the public interest; and, therefore, that statutory regulation of sweepstakes and contests is necessary to the general welfare of the public.
(2) It is the intent of the general assembly to require that Colorado consumers be provided with all relevant information necessary to make an informed decision concerning sweepstakes and contests. It is also the intent of the general assembly to prohibit misleading and deceptive prize promotions. The terms of this part 8 shall be construed liberally in order to achieve this purpose.
As used in this part 8, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Contest ” means any game, puzzle, competition, or plan that holds out or offers to prospective participants the opportunity to receive or compete for gifts, prizes, or gratuities as determined by skill or any combination of chance and skill; except that “contest ” shall not be construed to include any activity of licensees regulated under article 9 or article 47.1 of title 12, C.R.S., or part 2 of article 35 of title 24, C.R.S.
(2) “No purchase necessary message ” means the following statement, set apart and in bold-faced type, and at least ten-point type: “No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win this [sweepstakes or contest].”
(3) “Official rules ” means the formal printed statement of the rules for the sweepstakes or contest, which statement shall be printed in contrasting type face at least ten-point type.
(4) “Prize ” means cash or an item or service of monetary value that is offered or awarded to a person in a real or purported sweepstakes or contest.
(5) “Prize notice ” means a written notice, other than an advertisement appearing in a magazine or newspaper of general circulation, delivered by the United States postal service or by a private carrier, that is or contains a representation that the recipient will receive, or may be or may become eligible to receive, a prize.
(6) “Represent ” and “representation ” includes express statements and the implications and inferences that would be drawn from those statements, taking into account the context in which the representation is made, including, but not limited to, emphasis, font, size, color, location, and presentation of the representation and any qualifying language. If the representation is made on or visible through a mailing envelope, the context in which the representation is to be considered, including any qualifying language, shall be limited to that which is visible without opening the mailing envelope.
(7) “Retail value ” of a prize means:
(a) A price at which the sponsor can demonstrate that a substantial number of the prizes or substantially similar items have been sold to the public in this state by someone other than the sponsor during the preceding year; or
(b) If the sponsor is unable to satisfy the requirement in paragraph (a) of this subsection (7), then the retail value is no more than one and one-half times the amount that the sponsor paid or would pay for the prize in a bona fide purchase from a seller unaffiliated with the sponsor.
(8) “Specially selected ” means a representation that a person is a winner, a finalist, in first place or tied for first place, or otherwise among a limited group of persons with an enhanced likelihood of receiving a prize.
(9) “Sponsor” means a person who offers, by means of a prize notice, a prize to another person in this state in conjunction with any real or purported sweepstakes or contest that requires or allows, or creates the impression of requiring or allowing, the person to purchase any goods or services or pay any money as a condition of receiving, or in conjunction with allowing the person to receive, use, compete for, or obtain a prize or information about a prize.
(10) “Sweepstakes ” means any competition, giveaway, drawing, plan, or other selection process or other enterprise or promotion in which anything of value is awarded to participants by chance or random selection that is not otherwise unlawful under other provisions of law; except that “sweepstakes ” shall not be construed to include any activity of licensees regulated under article 9 or article 47.1 of title 12, C.R.S., or part 2 of article 35 of title 24, C.R.S 6-1-803. Prohibited practices and required disclosures.
6-1-803. Prohibited practices and required disclosures.
(1) No sponsor shall require a person to pay the sponsor money or any other consideration as a condition of awarding the person a prize, or as a condition of allowing the person to receive, use, compete for, or obtain a prize or information about a prize.
(2) No sponsor shall represent that a person has won or unconditionally will be the winner of a prize or use language that may lead a person to believe he or she has won a prize, unless all of the following conditions are met:
(a) The person shall be given the prize without obligation;
(b) The person shall be notified at no expense to such person within fifteen days of winning a prize; and
(c) The representation is not false, deceptive, or misleading.
(3) If a sponsor offers one or more items of the same or substantially the same value to all or substantially all of the recipients of a prize notice, the sponsor shall not:
(a) Represent that such items are prizes or that the process by which such items are to be distributed is a sweepstakes or contest, or otherwise represent that such process involves a distribution by chance; or
(b) Represent that the recipient is or has been specially selected unless it is true.
(4) No sponsor shall represent that a person has been specially selected in connection with a sweepstakes or contest unless it is true.
(5) No sponsor shall represent that a person may be or may become a winner of a prize, characterize the person as a possible winner of a prize, or represent that the person will, upon the satisfaction of some condition or the occurrence of some event or other contingency, become the winner of a prize, unless each of the following is clearly and conspicuously disclosed:
(a) The material conditions necessary to make the representation truthful and not misleading, including but not limited to the conditions that must be satisfied in order for the person to be determined as the winner. All such conditions shall be:
(I) Presented in such a manner that they are an integral part of the representation and not separated from the remainder of the representation by intervening words, graphics, colors, or excessive blank space;
(II) Made in terms, syntax, and grammar that are as simple and easy to understand as those used in the representation; and
(III) Presented in such a manner that they appear in the same type size and in the same type face, color, style, and font as the remainder of the representation.
(b) The fact that the person has not yet won;
(c) The no purchase necessary message;
(d) The retail value of each prize;
(e) The estimated odds of receiving each prize pursuant to paragraph (c) of subsection (6) of this section;
(f) The true name or names of the sponsor, the address of the sponsor’s actual principal place of business, and the address at which the sponsor may be contacted;
(g) If receipt of a prize is subject to a restriction, a statement that a restriction applies and a description of the restriction;
(h) The deadline for submission of an entry to be eligible to win each prize;
(i) If a sponsor represents that the person is or has been specially selected, and if the representation is not prohibited under subsections (3) and (4) of this section, then immediately adjacent to such representation, in the same type size and boldness as the representation, a statement of the maximum number of persons in the group or purported group of persons with this enhanced likelihood of receiving a prize;
(j) The official rules for the sweepstakes or contest.
(6) Unless otherwise provided by subsection (5) of this section, the information required by subsection (5) of this section shall be presented in the following form:
(a) The information required by paragraphs (b) to (h) of subsection (5) of this section may be presented either:
(I) Immediately adjacent to the first identification of the prize to which it refers and in the same type size and boldness as the reference to the prize; or
(II) In a separate section of official rules with a section entitled “consumer disclosure”, which title shall be printed in no less than twelve-point, bold-faced type, which section shall contain only a description of the prize, and which text shall be printed in no less than ten-point type.
(b) In addition to the other requirements of this subsection (6), the no purchase necessary message shall be presented in the official rules and, if the official rules do not appear thereon, on any device by which a person enters a sweepstakes or contest or purchases any goods or services or pays any money in connection with a sweepstakes or contest. The no purchase necessary message included in the official rules shall be set out in a separate paragraph in the official rules and be printed in capital letters in contrasting type face not smaller than the largest type face used in the text of the official rules. If a person is required or allowed to enter the sweepstakes or contest, or purchase any goods or services or pay any money in connection with a sweepstakes or contest, through a telephone call, the no purchase necessary message must be read to the person during the telephone call prior to accepting the entry, purchase, or payment.
(c) The statement of the odds of receiving each prize shall include, for each prize, the total number of prizes to be given away and the estimated odds of winning each prize based upon the following formula: “____ [number of prizes] out of _____ prize notices distributed”.
(d) All dollar values shall be stated in Arabic numerals and be preceded by a dollar sign.
(7) No sponsor shall subject sweepstakes or contest entries not accompanied by an order for products or services to any disability or disadvantage in the winner selection process to which an entry accompanied by an order for products or services would not be subject.
(8) No sponsor shall represent that an entry in a sweepstakes or contest accompanied by an order for products or services will be eligible to receive additional prizes or be more likely to win than an entry not accompanied by an order for products or services, or that an entry not accompanied by an order for products or services will have a reduced chance of winning a prize in the sweepstakes or contest.
(9) No sponsor shall represent that a person will have an increased chance of receiving a prize by making multiple or duplicate purchases, payments, or donations, or by entering a sweepstakes or contest more than one time.
(10) No sponsor shall represent that a person is being notified a second or final time of the opportunity to receive or compete for a prize, unless the representation is true.
(11) No sponsor shall represent that a prize notice is urgent or otherwise convey an impression of urgency by use of description, narrative copy, phrasing on a mailing envelope, or similar method, unless there is a limited time period in which the recipient must take some action to claim or be eligible to receive a prize, and the date by which such action is required appears immediately adjacent to each representation of urgency in the same type size and boldness as each representation of urgency.
(12) No sponsor shall deliver, or cause to be delivered, a prize notice which is in the form of, or a prize notice which includes, a document which simulates a bond, check, or other negotiable instrument, unless that document contains a statement that such document is nonnegotiable and has no cash value.
(13) No sponsor shall deliver, or cause to be delivered, a prize notice which:
(a) Simulates or falsely represents that it is a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any state or by any lawyer, law firm, or insurance or brokerage company; or
(b) Creates a false impression as to its source, authorization, or approval.
(14) No sponsor shall represent that a prize notice is being delivered by any method other than bulk mail unless that is the case or otherwise misrepresent the manner in which the prize notice is delivered.
(15) In the operation of a sweepstakes or contest, no sponsor shall:
(a) Misrepresent in any manner the likelihood or odds of winning any prize or misrepresent in any manner the rules, terms, or conditions of participation in a sweepstakes or contest;
(b) Fail to clearly and conspicuously disclose with all contest puzzles and games all of the following in the rules:
(I) The number of rounds or levels which may be necessary to complete the contest and determine winners;
(II) Whether future puzzles or games, if any, or tie breakers, if any, will be significantly more difficult than the initial puzzle;
(III) The date or dates on or before which the contest will terminate and upon which all prizes will be awarded;
(IV) The method of determining prizewinners if a tie remains after the last tie breaker puzzle is completed; and
(V) All rules, regulations, terms, and conditions of the contest.
(16) The prohibited practices listed in this section are in addition to and do not limit the types of unfair trade practices actionable at common law or under other civil and criminal statutes of this state.
(17) No sponsor, requiring a person to respond in any manner to claim a prize, shall require the person to purchase insurance; except that the sponsor is in no way responsible for applicable state and federal taxes on the prize; and except that a sponsor may require proof of health insurance in order to claim a prize for travel or recreational activities. Such health insurance may not be acquired from the sponsor.