Amendment F: Should Charities Pay Gambling Operators?

Colorado allows certain nonprofit organizations to hold games of chance, such as bingo and raffles, to raise funds. But the group must be at least five years old, and only unpaid volunteers are allowed to run the games.

With this amendment, state lawmakers are asking if voters want to change those rules.

Amendment F would allow – but not require – charities to pay gambling operators. It would limit payment to the minimum wage until mid-2024, after which nonprofits and workers could decide on a pay rate.

It would also shorten the time a nonprofit must be in continuous operation in Colorado before applying for a bingo-raffle license, from five years to three. Additionally, Amendment F allows the state legislature to decide on a new time requirement beginning in 2025.

Implementing these changes would cost the state about $714,000 over the next two fiscal years, according to Colorado’s nonpartisan tax impact statement. On the other side of the ledger, Amendment F would increase state revenue by $20,000 in the current fiscal year and bring in higher amounts in subsequent years. For context, Colorado’s state budget for 2022-23 is over $36 billion.

Because F is changing the state constitution, he needs 55% of the vote to pass. A similar amendment narrowly failed in 2020.

Here is the language you will see on the ballot:

Will there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution regarding the conduct of charitable gaming activities and, in this regard, allowing managers and operators to be paid and repealing the required period of continued existence of a charitable organization before obtaining a charitable gaming license?

How would that work?

The initiative would:

  • Allow charities to remunerate operators of charitable gaming activities, such as bingo and raffles, but do not require them to be paid.
  • Reduce the number of years — from five to three — a nonprofit must operate in Colorado before applying for a bingo-raffle license.
  • Beginning in 2025, allow the state legislature to change this time requirement, which the constitution does not currently allow.

This would not change the constitutional requirement that the operator of a charity bingo or raffle belong to the non-profit organization from which it benefits.

Who is for?

Proponents of Amendment F argue that the rules are outdated and need to be updated to support charities and their fundraising efforts.

Corky Kyle, executive vice president of the Colorado Charitable Bingo Association, said there have been few changes to charitable gaming law since it entered the state constitution in 1958. He thinks it has caused a “death spiral” in bingo.

“We haven’t been able to keep up with the pace of technology. We haven’t been able to keep pace with changing player tastes,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything because of the restrictive nature of the Constitution.”

He added that Amendment F gives the legislature the power to respond to industry and change the time requirement when it deems necessary, rather than asking Colorado voters to decide those issues directly.

Who is against?

At the time of publication, CPR had not identified a registered issuance committee against the amendment. However, the Colorado Blue Book suggests that this amendment could make it more competitive for nonprofit organizations to operate bingo-raffle games. Non-profit organizations may also feel pressured to pay their charitable gaming operators, which could reduce the amount of money they raise that ends up serving their mission. Some argue that the professionalization of bingo and raffle operations undermines their charitable fundraising purpose.

During the legislative session, the Colorado Gaming Association, which represents casinos, and the city of Black Hawk lobbied against the resolution that put this measure on the ballot.

Additional coverage

Amendment C: Conduct of Charitable Gaming, Explained (This is the CPR voter guide entry for the similar amendment that appeared on the ballot in 2020.)

Comments are closed.