Coloradans again voted against a measure that would have modernized a 1958 law that set requirements for nonprofits that run bingo games or raffles for charities and given the legislature more regulatory control in the future.
As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, Amendment F was set to fail with only 39% of the vote, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Because the measure sought to amend the Colorado Constitution, it required at least 55% of the vote to be enacted.
The measure aimed to change the constitution to allow nonprofits — the only organizations authorized to run pay-to-play bingo games and raffles with significant prizes — to qualify for a license after three years, instead of five. It also would have authorized the legislature to change that regulation in 2025.
“The nonprofits that fund all their activities or community programs, the bands, the swim teams, the football teams, the debate teams that use bingo, we’ve let them down by not being able to get this across the finish line,” Corky Kyle, executive vice president of the Colorado Charitable Bingo Association, told The Colorado Sun Tuesday night.
A similar measure on the ballot in 2020 nearly passed but failed after it received only 52.4%. Kyle said he was surprised to see the measure fail by such a large margin this year, considering the tight race two years ago.
“It’s unfortunate that the voters really took the wind out of the sails of all the nonprofits that do bingo in this state and have to compete with the other five gambling venues in this state that are for-profit venues, versus bingo, which is totally nonprofit,” Kyle said.
Proponents of the measure argued that dropping the current prohibition on paying nonprofit employees to operate bingo games or raffles would have made it easier for the organizations to find people to run the games.
Lowering the number of years for a nonprofit to be established could have allowed more organizations to participate in charitable raffles or bingo, meaning they could secure more revenue for their missions.
Kyle said the members of the Colorado Charitable Bingo Association board will discuss if they want to advocate for a similar measure to be placed on the ballot in the future.
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“With politics, the only thing that ends up getting results is being able to persevere and have a great amount of tenacity. And sometimes it takes three, four or five times to go ahead and get the ball across the finish line,” he said.
Relaxing the regulations would allow groups to host games of chance before they have established “a reputation for integrity and legitimacy,” the Independence Institute said in recommending a “no” vote on the measure.
The Liberatarian group’s voter guide also says “the whole matter seems like an oddly specific thing to be dealt with in the state constitution in the first place.”
Raffles and bingo brought in more than $121 million for Colorado charities in 2021.
UPDATE: This story was updated at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022 with the latest election results from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.