Colorado Legal Poker

Last Update: March 20, 2015

Online Poker

Colorado lawmakers have intimated that iGaming expansion may be in the cards, which prompted the State Attorney General to release an opinion that in order to do so an amendment to the State’s constitution would need to be passed. This “hiccup” has slammed the brakes of iGaming talk in the state for the time being.

So where does online poker currently reside from a legality point of view?

Oh, Colorado. If you look at the websites of the Colorado Attorney General and the Department of Revenue’s Division of Gaming, they would have you believe that internet gambling is illegal in Colorado because, with limited exception, it is illegal to “transmit gambling information by any means” in Colorado other than at state-licensed and state-authorized casinos (CRS §18-10-106).

The argument that poker is a game of skill, however, could allow it to fall within an exception to the definition of gambling under Colorado law. And if poker isn’t gambling, then players can “transmit” all the “poker information” they want without running afoul of Colorado criminal statutes. Under that argument, the state certainly can’t prosecute people for engaging in gambling by playing internet poker.

The skill argument was tested in a 2009 case involving the arrest and prosecution of Kevin Raley for playing in a bar poker game. Although Raley won at the trial level, the argument that poker was a skill game (and therefore not gambling) was later reversed on appeal.

The state gaming association drafted an online poker bill in 2012 but as of early 2013 no such bill had been introduced in the Colorado legislature.

Live Poker

Live poker is healthy and strong in Colorado. It was first approved by state voters in 1990; the Colorado Limited Gaming Act was enacted the following year. Under the CLGA, slot machines, craps, roulette, blackjack and poker can be offered in the three mountain towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. The state later approved the opening of two tribal casinos in the southwestern portion of the state.

The rules of poker are administered by the Division of Gaming of the Colorado Department of Revenue. For all games, including poker, the maximum allowable bet is $100.
Break out your chip sets and your decks of cards for your home games. Under Colorado Revised Statutes §18-10-102, gambling in Colorado does not include games that are “incidental to a bona fide social relationship” in which no person is participating as a professional. That makes a home poker game perfectly legal under Colorado law.

In November of 2014 Colorado voters rejected a ballot measure that would have expanded gaming options at up to three racetracks.

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