No cash? No problem!

A bill that passed the Colorado state House over the weekend is engulfed in controversy, both because of the content of the bill itself and the vote that allowed it to move on to the Senate.

The bill, SB23-259, would allow Colorado casinos to extend lines of credit to customers, something we often see in movies, but is not permitted everywhere in real life. Those who support the bill believe it will help casinos attract whales, as high rollers will be more prone to visit a casino if they don’t have to pack a duffel bag fill of cash or make multiple stops at an ATM.

“It’s really trying to attract folks that want to gamble … Gives them the opportunity ahead of time to apply for credit with the casino,” said Democratic Rep. Marc Snyder, one of the sponsors of the bill. “It’s something that the casinos feel will help them to build and maintain (their) customer base.”

Those opposed say it will just make it easier for people to gamble above their means. The bill has both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. There are rules set forth in the bill to govern how casinos can extend credit, though one point is interesting: “The amount of the extension of credit is at least $1,000.”

Drama surrounding vote

One of those against the bill was Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf, who said, “If you’re having to borrow money to gamble that means you already spent the money you had to spend on gambling, and now you’re wanting to get in the game without any money.”

He voted no, contributing to the bill’s defeat 31-34 on Saturday.

But then something weird happened. According to Colorado Public Radio (CPR) News, Holtorf asked for the vote to be “reconsidered” a half hour later, effectively a redo, saying that he “may have voted in error.”

On the second vote, the bill passed 33-32. Not only did Holtorf change his vote to a yes, but so did fellow Republicans Mary Bradfield and Matthew Soper, while Democrat Rep. Jenny Wilford flipped from a yes to a no.

A number of Democrats cried foul, smelling something fishy. “This is why people lose trust in our government,” Rep. Bob Marshall said.

Rep. Jennifer Parenti said one of the bill’s sponsors met with “special interests in the lobby” before the vote was reconsidered. She tweeted, in part, that it “calls into question the integrity of the entire second vote.”

Rep. Javier Mabrey tweeted, “Legislation designed to help working families and the poor is getting killed left and right but a bill designed to make it easier for casinos to make money gets a second chance to pass after it died fairly. This is so ridiculous.”

Should the bill pass the Senate and be signed by Governor Jared Polis, it would go into effect in August.

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