By Debi Brazzale, COLORADO NEWS AGENCY
While some ballot measures may try and beat the odds, one ballot measure is asking voters to give the legislature the authority to transfer oversight for games of chance–namely Bingo and raffles– from one state agency to another.
Two legislative sessions ago in 2009, lawmakers passed House Concurrent Resolution 09-1003, placing Amendment P on the 2010 ballot, asking voters to allow the legislature to determine which state agency will have oversight over games of chance. In 2010, the legislature passed Senate Bill 141, which moves the oversight from the office of the Secretary of State to the Department of Revenue, of called DOR, which already regulates casinos in Colorado. SB 141 can’t take effect without the voters’ approval of Amendment P.
Republican Sen. Keith King, of Colorado Springs, sponsored both legislative measures upon request of the Secretary of State’s office, agreeing that the Revenue Department would be a better fit for bingo and raffles.
“The Secretary of State is not really the correct place to have it anymore because all the gaming has since gone to the Department of Revenue,” said King, adding he also believes it may translate into some cost savings in the long run. “This is a common sense amendment and I think it’ll create more government efficiency.”
It was a vote of the people that originally placed bingo and raffles under the purview of the Secretary of State’s Office back in the 1950s, where it has remained. Since that time, the Lottery, casinos, and other gaming activities were legalized and funneled into the Department of Revenue. Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, says the Department of Regulatory Agencies has been suggesting the regulatory move since 1992.
However, since the original bingo and raffle laws are written into the state Constitution, it will ultimately be up to the voters to decide whether to give authority to the legislature to determine which agency will have oversight. The Secretary of State’s Office says it is happy to oblige the voters either way. If amendment P passes, SB141 will go into effect allowing the transfer to occur.
“We’re happy to ask the voters if this is a move that they want to see,” said Coolidge. “The exact same people that do the (oversight) investigations in our office will move directly into the Department of Revenue.”
The Department of Revenue says they are also game for the change if the people approve Amendment P, especially since they have the expertise to seamlessly absorb the new bingo and raffle division.
“If it’s the will of the people we’ll take it on, we’re willing to take on the responsibility,” said DOR spokesperson Mark Couch . “We were asked throughout the process and we thought it made sense.”