A unanimous decision by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission to retain existing licensing agreements left Cripple Creek casino owners and Teller County officials jubilant. Left hanging for months over the commission’s proposal to close a tax loophole, the decision Feb. 16 was a victory for casino employees as well as their owners.
At issue was the commission’s proposal to require all casinos owned by one operator to be under one license, which, in Cripple Creek, would have increased taxes on the casinos but added to state coffers, to the tune of an estimated $5 million. With the state in a budget crunch, the outcome of the decision by the commission was a nail-biter.
A reversal of the current taxing agreements would have been devastating for Cripple Creek casino owners as the city’s four operators of 14 casinos have maintained the historic character of the buildings with turn-of-the-century facades.
“The gaming commission said they didn’t feel there was any abuse and the reversal would have too big of an economic impact on Cripple Creek,” said Teller County commission chair Jim Ignatius. “They said the owners followed the law as it was enacted in 1992 and that the loss of jobs would mainly impact Cripple Creek.”
As well, the gaming commissioners praised the casino owners for their adherence to historic preservation, Ignatius said. “The commissioners didn’t say a word about money, all they talked about was jobs, jobs, jobs.”