Just past midnight, on Thursday, July 2nd., a new era of gambling began in Colorado thanks to voter-approved changes to Colorado gambling laws. Casinos celebrated the moment with champagne, celebrities, and live entertainment. Players and casino executives were all thrilled with Colorado’s new laws that raised maximum bets from $5 to $100, permitted casinos to remain open 24 hours, and allowed the addition of craps and roulette. The combination of the new laws, along with the 4th of July holiday, led to the busiest weekend in Colorado gambling history. Casinos prepared for the big event the way they prepare for their New Year’s Eve celebration, since New Year’s Eve is typically the busiest time for casinos.
Colorado’s gaming industry has been in a slump since early last year. For that reason alone, the prospect of increased business due to the new laws was reason enough for an all out celebration. The Isle of Capri had live music from Boogie Machine band, and hired Michael Winslow (the sound effects cadet from Police Academy) to throw out the first dice just before the stroke of midnight. Fortune Valley casino in Central City had Elvis impersonators and a Frank Sinatra show. A lot of gamblers drove up just to be among the first to play the new games. Some were fortunate enough to be able to get a room for the night, others found all the rooms already filled and had to drive a minimum of 20 minutes to find the nearest hotel with an available room. Some just chose to celebrate all night. Tables were crowded, but a good time was had by all.
It is estimated that community colleges will receive between $7 million and $10 million from gambling taxes for the first year of the changes.