Is betting illegal in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | May 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Yes, but there are five exceptions:

  1. social gambling;
  2. the Colorado Lottery;
  3. in Colorado's licensed casinos;
  4. legal horse and greyhound racing through the Colorado Division of Racing; and
  5. licensed bingo, raffles, or charitable games

Legal gambling in Colorado

Colorado gambling laws under C.R.S. 18-10-103 limit legal gambling to the above exceptions. Otherwise, placing bets in a game or sporting event is illegal throughout the state.

Illegal gambling is often linked with racketeering and organized crime. Examples of illegal gambling may include:

  • betting at an unlicensed casino;
  • betting on sports (other than through the Colorado Division of Racing);
  • betting in an unlicensed lottery game

Note that C.R.S. 18-10-106 also prohibits internet gambling and telephone sports book betting. Even if the gambling company or gaming event is taking place in a jurisdiction where gambling is legal, any person who is physically in Colorado may not place a bet.

Social Gambling

Social gambling is legal in Colorado. Social gambling comprises any wager or game that is:

  1. incidental to a social relationship,
  2. participated in by people (not companies), and
  3. no otherwise illegal gambling is taking place

Common examples are when friends or family:

  • gather for a poker night or a casino night;
  • start a pool on who may win the Super Bowl or other contest; or
  • hold an raffle on a prize

Colorado Lottery

People in Colorado may lawfully enter the Colorado Lottery, which holds the following games:

  • Powerball
  • Mega Millions
  • Lucky for Life
  • Lotto
  • Cash 5
  • Pick 3
  • Scratch

Colorado Casinos

Gambling is legal is Colorado's licensed casinos:

Colorado Casino


Ameristar Casino Black Hawk

Black Hawk

Black Diamond Casino and Saloon

Cripple Creek

Brass Ass Casino of Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek

Bronco Billy's Casino

Cripple Creek

Bull Durham Saloon and Casino

Black Hawk

Bullpen Casino

Black Hawk

Bullwhacker's Black Hawk Canyon and Grand Plateau Casino

Black Hawk

Century Casino Central City

Central City

Colorado Central Station Casino

Black Hawk

Colorado Grande Casino

Cripple Creek

Creeker's Gaming Hall

Cripple Creek

Dan Cooper's Eureka! Casino

Black Hawk

Doc Holliday

Central City

Dostal Alley Brewpub & Casino

Central City

Double Eagle Hotel & Casino

Cripple Creek

Double Eagle Hotel & Casino & the Gold Creek Casino

Cripple Creek

Easy Street

Central City

Famous Bonanza

Central City

The Gilpin Casino

Black Hawk

Gold Rush Hotel & Casino/Gold Digger's Casino

Cripple Creek

Golden Gates

Black Hawk

Golden Gulch

Black Hawk

Golden Mardi Gras Casino

Black Hawk


Cripple Creek

Isle of Capri Casino and Hotel

Black Hawk

J.P. McGills Hotel & Casino

Cripple Creek

Johnny Nolon's Casino

Cripple Creek

The Lodge Casino at Black Hawk

Black Hawk

Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino

Cripple Creek

Red Dolly

Black Hawk

Reserve Casino Hotel

Central City

The Richman Casino Wild Card Saloon & Casino

Black Hawk

Riviera Black Hawk Casino

Black Hawk

Saratoga Casino Black Hawk

Black Hawk

Scarlet's Casino

Central City

Silver Hawk Saloon & Casino

Black Hawk

Sky Ute Lodge and Casino


Teller House

Central City

Uncle Sam's Casino

Cripple Creek

Ute Mountain Casino Hotel & Resort


Wild Horse

Cripple Creek

Womacks Casino & Hotel

Cripple Creek

Horse and Greyhound Racing

Betting on horses is legal at the racetrack facility in Arapahoe Park in Aurora. Note that this facility runs only for 13 consecutive weekends during the summer, and there is no live greyhound racing there.

However, there are several legal off track betting (OTB) facilities that take bets on simulcast horse and greyhound races throughout the year. Only people 18 and older may place wagers. 

Charitable Events

Charities are allowed to sponsor gaming events at licensed casinos in Colorado. Otherwise, any events they hold outside of the casinos may not include any gaming events that would otherwise be considered illegal gambling.


The punishment for illegal gambling in Colorado depends on the activity the defendant is accused of and whether he/she has a criminal history.

Illegal gambling is usually a class 1 petty offense in Colorado, carrying:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and
  • up to $500 in fines

But "professional gambling" -- which is a legal term for profiting from illegal gambling -- carries a harsher penalty. A first-time conviction is a class 1 misdemeanor, carrying:

  • 6 - 18 months in jail, and
  • up to $5,000

A successive conviction of professional gambling is a class 5 felony, carrying:

  • 1 - 3 years in prison, and
  • up to $100,000 in fines

A person who owns, sells, possesses, or uses a gambling device or gambling record faces a class 2 misdemeanor for a first-time conviction. The sentence includes:

  • 3 - 12 months in jail, and
  • up to $1,000 in fines

A successive conviction of having or using a gambling device is a class 6 felony, carrying:

  • 12 - 18 months in prison, and
  • up to $100,000 in fines

Finally, a first-offense of internet gambling or sports book betting is a class 3 misdemeanor, carrying:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and
  • up to $750 in fines

And a subsequent offense of internet gambling or sports book betting is a class 6 felony, carrying:

  • 12 - 18 months in prison, and
  • up to $100,000 in fines

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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