Liquor laws apply to Colo. casinos

Jul 24, 2006 3:49 AM

Most state gaming regulations dictate that that the "house" has a responsibility to stop a player from playing casino games if he or she is "too drunk." In Colorado, it is actually against limited gaming law to play while inebriated.

A casino with a dealer, a pit-boss, security, and surveillance, can all claim to not know when to declare a patron is drunk (i.e., each employee can legitimately claim — "I’m not a doctor"). However, if a bartender in a stand-alone bar continued to serve somebody past the point of inebriation, and the patron walked out of the bar, got into his car, drove into a tree and died, the estate of the deceased could sue the liable bartender and other criminal and civil charges could be leveled.

Does the stand-alone bartender have any superior discretionary skills on telling if somebody is drunk than the multiple observers noted in the casino?

Employees in the gaming hospitality trade are pushed through "substance" management programs before being allowed to serve or even comp a drink. It amazed me that in Nevada I could carry a "TAM" card after a three-hour class and a 20 or so question multiple-choice test. One would think becoming a pusher of the last legal drug would be a little more challenging. Was I qualified to tell if somebody was drunk? Not unless I could give the guest a breathalyzer or blood test, which was not going to happen.

While some Indian casinos have been successful with not serving alcohol on property, most gaming venues have a synergistic if not symbiotic relationship with lady liquor. As Homer Simpson so eloquently phrased his relationship with the golden elixir, "Ah, beer. The cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems."

Casinos are locales of vice or at least bad habits. The Colorado casinos, as noted in a previous article, are exempt from the smoking ban. Therefore, there is serious doubt whether alcohol consumption on properties will ever be legislatively curbed.

Since most visitors to casinos in Black Hawk, Central City, or Cripple Creek are day visitors arriving by car, it is imperative, due to the sometimes challenging drives to these locations, that individuals not be allowed to imbibe to the point of where they are a safety threat to themselves or others on the roadways to the casinos. Too many good people have died as the result of drunk driver’s negligence, and casinos in Colorado must be careful not to exacerbate the problem.

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