Colorado Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Casinos To Extend Credit

Written By J.R. Duren on May 25, 2023
Colorado Politics Money Graphic

You can do just about anything you want in Colorado, from casino gambling and sports betting to smoking weed.

But you can’t take out a line of credit from a casino to fund your gambling; that’s where Gov. Jared Polis drew the line this week. Polis vetoed a bill that would allow casinos to offer lines of credit of at least $1,000 to their customers. His reason? He wants to protect the state’s problem gamblers from financial ruin.

“My focus is on saving Coloradans money, not exposing them to loans from casinos that could be their financial ruin,” he wrote in a letter to lawmakers, as stated in an article by CPR News.

Polis argues gambling addicts can’t make sound decisions about casino loans

A casino line of credit or “marker” is a financial product casinos offer to gamblers. If you take a $1,000 credit, that means you have $1,000 to bet with. You can use some or all of the money to gamble. In general, you have to provide a checking account number to obtain the credit.

The line of credit can be interest-free and, as is the case with markers at Caesars, gamblers can only use the credit for slots and table games, but not for poker. Gamblers
would have 150 days to repay the casino, according to the bill.

While Polis believes that patrons without a gambling addiction have the right to get a line of credit, he doesn’t think that problem gamblers can provide proper consent.

“Just as there would be issues with gaining the consent of a person with a substance use disorder who is under the influence, there are also serious issues regarding the ability of a person with a gambling disorder to freely consent to a loan while on a gambling spree,” he wrote.

Supporters of the bill have said it’s intended for high-rollers—gamblers with large bankrolls who can bet significant amounts of money. However, Polis wrote that, even if the high-roller focus is legitimate, there’s really no way to protect problem gamblers from ruining their finances with casino lines of credit.

According to an article by CPR News, Governor Polis wrote:

“I worry that the bill would contribute to problematic gaming activities and hurt Coloradans, in particular those of limited means, by facilitating dubious instances of consent from persons who are suffering from addiction.”

Bill included various financial background checks

While Polis believes the bill can cause financial harm to his constituents, the bill did provide safeguards, although not those directly related to problem gambling.

For example, the bill allowed lines of credit, but only those looking for a loan could meet the following criteria:

  • Pass a credit check
  • Have no known convictions for unlawful acts
  • Doesn’t owe child support, unpaid debt to the state, and restitution resulting from a criminal case

Essentially, a Colorado casino could deny a line of credit if the applicant has a bad credit score. But gambling addictions don’t always lead to poor credit scores. For example, if gambling addict funds their addiction via their checking account and never uses loans or credit cards, they could very well have a high credit score.

But, if a gambler uses credit card cash advances to fund their habit, their high credit card balances in relation to their credit limits could cause significant damage to their credit score.

So, while the Extension Of Credit For Limited Gaming Bill provided multiple ways for casinos to judge an applicant’s financial standing, there just wasn’t enough there for Polis to sign it.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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