Casino revenue is down in the U.S. state of Colorado, which somehow is supposed to be a surprise. The state legalized casino gambling way back in 1991 and at that time only allowed casinos to carry slot machines, blackjack tables and poker tables. Casinos also had a set closing time and were not allowed to operate around the clock. The blackjack tables also had $5 betting limits.
Last year, the Colorado legislature made some changes in an attempt to boost revenue. One change was to remove the restriction on operating hours, allowing the casinos to be open 24 hours per day. Another change provided by Amendment 50 was that the table limits was raised to $100, allowing for some high roller blackjack games. As a result, many casinos got rid of their $5 blackjack tables and started making $10 and $15 tables the lowest at the casino. The thought is that it would increase revenue because the players would still play at the tables but they would bet more.
How has this worked out? Well, revenue is down at Colorado casinos. Profits are down this year as a total and last month there was a big drop, down to $70.1 million from $76 million in July 2009. When the table limits were raised, many people, including me, said that it was a bad idea because it would scare off players who don’t want to bet much money. It’s hard to say if that has been much of a factor in the declining profits. The most obvious cause of the drop in revenue is the Great Recession, which has left millions without jobs and those who do have jobs are worried about losing theirs next. It’s not a great time to be gambling your money away and that mindset is hurting casinos everywhere. If the economy recovers anytime soon, we will see how much of a factor the table limits is.