New Poker Laws Come to Colorado and Nebraska

Recent elections in Washington, D.C, had a major effect on the state, also affecting a few other states, especially their laws as regards gaming. The states affected by these elections are Colorado and Nebraska. It was not an easy process in making gaming legal in both states. In the end, the gaming legislation was passed, with all that is left is the putting together of a framework that will guide gaming in both states.

It has been a long debate on who will decide what stakes the players would play. The question was presented to voters in Colorado through Amendment 77. Three cities have poker in Colorado – Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. Amendment 77 is focused on giving these cities the autonomy to decide the stakes. The state law which they have operated with sets a player’s maximum limit at $100. It has been difficult for high stakes players in Colorado because of this law.

The Amendment 77 Result

As expected, it was a clear victory in favor of allowing the cities to decide on the stakes players would play. A whopping 60.5 percent (1,854,153) voters statewide voted in favor of giving the cities their autonomy, concerning deciding on the stakes. Out of the 64 counties in the state, only 5 voted against Amendment 77, with 1,208,414 voters (39.5 percent). The result was a clear indication that the residents of Colorado are tired of the $100 cap set by the state.

The decision has been made, but we will not see it implemented until all casinos are back to full operation. Also, the three cities will have to decide on what the maximum limit will be before gaming above the $100 state law can commence. We will likely see a poker explosion following this decision, just like how it happened in Florida.

Poker was allowed in Florida dog and horse racing tracks in 2007, but with a limit that prohibited any serious action from happening. However, a review of these laws in 2009 saw a poker boom in the state as World Series of Poker (WSOP), the World Poker Tour (WPT), and other tournament circuits made their way down to Florida as fast as they could to offer their services.

The effect of the legislation has since been tremendous for poker rooms. The 2019/20 Fiscal Year, with June 2020 as its year-end, saw the 25 poker rooms in the state generate over $132 million in revenues. Remember that these rooms were no operational for three months in 2020 following the shutdowns due to covid-19.

Nebraska to Offer Legalized Poker

Back in November, voters in Nebraska were also required to vote on a gaming expansion that was presented on their ballots. Initiatives 429, 430, and 431 were the amendments that were voted on, with a decision to be made whether casino gaming should be expanded to racetracks that were already located in the state.

Initiative 429 was the main amendment, with the two others as add-ons. Without the passing of 429, the two others would be irrelevant. Initiative 429, which was about allowing casino gambling at racetracks, passed overwhelmingly with 588,405 votes in favor while 316,298 were against it. It was a 65 -35 percent split in favor of allowing gambling to come to racetrack facilities in the state. Initiatives 430 and 431 also passed with large numbers.

The new casinos in the state are expected to start operations in late 2021. It will offer legalized poker in Nebraska for the first time and also stop the residents from taking their monies to neighboring states like Iowa, Colorado, and Missouri.