The State of Colorado has entered into compacts with two Indian tribes in southwest Colorado to conduct casino-style gaming on their reservation land. The two tribes, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, are not subject to taxation and are not required to report their revenues to the State. The tribes have agreed to conduct limited gaming with the same $100 bet limits that other casinos in Colorado adhere to, but a provision in the compacts allows the tribes to litigate possible higher stakes and increased scope of games. The tribal casinos may offer live keno in addition to slot machines, poker, blackjack, craps and roulette.
The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe was the first to open an Indian gaming establishment, the Ute Mountain Casino, in September 1992. The casino is located near Towaoc, 10 miles south of Cortez. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe opened the Sky Ute Casino & Lodge near Ignacio, 25 miles southeast of Durango, in September 1993.
In 1999, the State, the tribes and Archuleta, La Plata and Montezuma counties sponsored and funded studies of the social and economic impacts of the two tribal gaming operations. The results of the studies conducted by Deloitte & Touche were released in early 2000. The studies concluded that an annual average of between $29.0 million and $33.3 million circulated in the Colorado economy from 1995-1999 as a result of the two casino operations. Meanwhile, the reports found negative social impacts in the areas of arrest incidences, substance abuse, traffic counts and motor vehicle accident responses. Social areas positively impacted included unemployment benefit recipient rates, employment rates, welfare recipient rates, tribal food distribution, roadway conditions and community projects and programs funded by gaming revenues.