A new ordinance in Cripple Creek, Colorado, has been passed to eliminate a previously set exemption to a portion of the fees charged for the first 50 devices operating in each casino of the city. This exemption was first introduced in an effort to promote economic development and the establishment of local casinos after state electors approved limited stakes gambling in Cripple Creek, something the council sees as having already been achieved.
Thanks to the exemption, for each of those first 50 devices, casino owners pay $50 in the first quarter, $100 in the second, $225 in the third, and $225 in the fourth. They further pay $300 per quarter for each of their remaining devices.
The new ordinance was unanimously approved on October 20, reports Pikes Peak Courier. It will eliminate the exemption, meaning casinos will pay the full $300 per device each quarter, a change that would net the city at least $360,000 per year.
“The city finds the exemption is no longer necessary because gaming establishments are well established,” reads the ordinance. It also transfers the responsibility for counting devices from the city clerk’s office to the finance department.
Cripple Creek Casino Association board member Larry Hill asked the council to add a one or two-year sunset clause to give the association time to discuss ways to diversify the city’s revenue stream. However, Mayor Tom Litherland said he didn’t support said clauses and that it was time to stop the exemption.
A second ordinance would have raised the device fees by as much as 33%, further reports the previously cited news source. These fees haven’t been raised in 31 years. However, the ordinance has been tabled to the last meeting in March. This will allow the city and the casino association time to explore options for increasing revenue.
Earlier this year, Cripple Creek casinos were greenlighted to offer new games and higher limits. Council members passed a resolution which allows the city's 12 casinos to offer 11 versions of baccarat, three forms of keno, big 6 wheel, new versions of poker, blackjack, and roulette, as well as a variety of side bets and any other games approved by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission. Voters also approved a ballot question eliminating the single bet limit of $100 at casinos.
The broad resolution means casinos "won’t have to come back to council for approval every time the commission approves new games," Cripple Creek Interim City Administrator Ray White said in January.
The resolution, which launched on May 1st, has been welcomed by casinos in the city. “This is transformational,” described earlier this year Baxter Lee, general manager of Bronco Billy's Casino & Hotel. “This will be the first time we can offer a Las Vegas experience to our table games customers.”