A controversial bill has been introduced in Colorado that proposes to allow casinos to provide loans to their players.
Although some members of the legislature have welcomed the proposal, many believe that it could worsen harm by enabling players to gamble more than they can afford.
SB23-259, also known as the credit gambling bill, has been introduced in Colorado with the aim of allowing casinos to offer credits to their customers. The bill primarily targets high-rollers who would otherwise have to carry large sums of cash or withdraw money from ATMs.
As cashless gaming has yet to be widely adopted in regulated markets, the bill is expected to provide convenience to many players. Democratic Rep. Marc Snyder noted that the bill would also cater to the needs of gambling tourists.
However, critics have raised concerns that the bill may enable less affluent customers to gamble beyond their means. Although the legislation requires casinos to evaluate a person’s creditworthiness before offering them credit and mandates that recipients apply in advance, some fear that this may not be sufficient to prevent irresponsible spending.
The proposed bill, that allows casinos to offer credits to customers, fell two votes short of passing with 31 votes in favor and 34 against.
Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf was critical of the bill, suggesting that the likely users of gambling credits would be those who had already spent their own money. However, within an hour, Holtorf requested another vote, and this time, three of the bill’s critics voted in favor of it, resulting in its passage with 33 votes for and 32 against.
Surprisingly, Rep. Jenny Willford, who had previously supported the bill, voted against it during the second vote. Holtorf’s flip-flop attracted scrutiny from Democratic representatives, with Rep. Bob Marshall criticizing it as a reason why people lose trust in the government. Holtorf declined to comment on his change of heart.
Representatives from both parties expressed their criticism of SB23-259 outside of the chamber, with Rep. Jennifer Parenti suggesting that the bill was only revived to cater to the interests of the lobby. Parenti expressed regret over the decision, stating that “the people of Colorado deserve better.”
Other representatives also voiced their opinions, with some stating that the bill had previously failed for a reason and was only revived to benefit casinos’ profits. Some also implied that the bill was only reintroduced due to lobbying efforts.
However, the bill’s journey is not yet complete, as the Senate will now review the House’s amendments. Ultimately, it will be up to Gov. Jared Polis to sign the bill into law. If approved, it will take effect in the fall.