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Gaming Tax

Table of Contents

Background

The gaming tax was first levied in 1991 when casino gambling became legal in the municipalities of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek.1  The gaming tax is levied on casinos’ adjusted gross proceeds, defined as the amount of money collected from gamblers minus the amount paid to gamblers in winnings.  For each month of operation, casinos remit gaming taxes to the Division of Gaming within the Department of Revenue by the 15th day of the following month.  Casinos on the Ute Mountain and Southern Ute Indian Reservations are not subject to the state gaming tax.

Most gaming tax revenue is subject to the TABOR limit on state revenue and spending.  In 2009, Colorado voters approved Amendment 50, which allows additional casino games, higher bet limits, and longer hours of operation.  Gaming tax revenue attributed to Amendment 50 is not subject to the TABOR limit.

 

Tax Rate

Tax rates are set by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission, a five-member regulatory body appointed by the Governor.  The commission reviews tax rates annually and may raise or lower rates so long as they do not exceed 40 percent.  Beginning July 1, 2012, adjusted gross proceeds are taxed at accelerating rates following the stepwise schedule shown below.  For example, a casino must pay a 0.25 percent tax on its first $2 million in adjusted gross proceeds, and a 2 percent tax on its next $3 million.  Casinos’ adjusted gross proceeds reset to zero on July 1, the first day of the state fiscal year.

Casino Adjusted Gross Proceeds
Tax Rate
Up to $2,000,000
0.25%
$2,000,001 to $5,000,000
2%
$5,000,001 to $8,000,000
9%
$8,000,001 to $10,000,000
11%
$10,000,001 to $13,000,000
16%
$13,000,001 and over
20%

 

Tax Exemptions

Casinos operating on the Ute Mountain and Southern Ute Indian Reservations in Archuleta, La Plata, and Montezuma counties are exempt from the gaming tax.

 

Distribution

The FY 2017-18 gaming tax revenue distribution is shown below.  After administrative expenses are paid, gaming tax revenue subject to TABOR is deposited in the Limited Gaming Fund, and TABOR-exempt revenue attributable to Amendment 50 is credited to the Extended Limited Gaming Fund.  The Colorado Constitution requires that 12 percent of limited gaming revenue be distributed to gaming counties, 10 percent to gaming cities, and 28 percent to the State Historical Fund for preservation of historical sites in gaming cities and statewide.2  The remaining half of the Limited Gaming Fund is allocated to state programs at the discretion of the General Assembly.3

The Colorado Constitution requires that Amendment 50 revenue credited to the Extended Limited Gaming Fund be distributed as follows:

  • 78 percent for financial aid and classroom instruction at Colorado community, junior, and district colleges based on each school's enrollment;
  • 12 percent to Gilpin and Teller Counties, based on the proportion of Amendment 50 revenue raised within each county, to help address the impacts of gaming; and
  • 10 percent to Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek, based on the proportion of the Amendment 50 revenue raised within each town, to help address the impacts of gaming.4
 
 
State Comparisons

Including Colorado, 19 states allow gaming at casinos, 30 states host casinos on Indian reservations, and 39 states allow pari-mutuel wagering, which Colorado taxes separately from its casinos.

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1Colo. Const. article XVIII, § 9 and Section 44-30-601, C.R.S.
2Colo. Const. article XVIII, § 9 (5)(b)(II) and (III).
3Section 44-30-701 (2), C.R.S.
4Colo. Const. article XVIII, § 9 (7)(c)(III).
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