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Colorado Office of the Attorney General Frequently Asked Questions

The Colorado Attorney General receives questions covering a wide range of topics. Below, we have listed a number of our most frequently asked questions. It is important to note, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office is neither authorized nor allocated the resources to provide legal advice or counsel to private citizens. As chief legal counsel to state government, the Attorney General is responsible for protecting the public interest, but does not serve as legal counsel or advisor to individual citizens. 

If you do not find an answer to your question, please take a moment to visit the other sponsored websites administered by the Colorado Department of Law, which are described in detail here

 

Question or Topic Answer
Where can I find information on Colorado laws on firearms and conceal and carry permits?

Please reference the separate Frequently Asked Questions button for Concealed Carry Permits 

Where can I find information about contract cancellation, the Colorado Lemon Law, or other consumer questions?

Please visit our consumer protection website Stop Fraud Colorado and reference the Resource Guide for extensive information on these consumer topics. 

What types of gambling are legal in Colorado and what about "social gambling"?
Most forms of professional gambling are illegal in Colorado. In order to help you understand gambling laws in Colorado, the Attorney General and the Limited Gaming Control Commission (in the Department of Revenue) have provided the following “frequently asked questions” about gambling in Colorado:

Q: Is it legal to place wagers over the internet or by calling a toll-free number in Colorado?

A: No. Internet gambling sites and telephone sports books are illegal under state and federal laws. Colorado law prohibits the transmission or reception of gambling information by any means. Federal law also prohibits the use of wire communications in interstate or foreign commerce for the placing of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers. In addition, the Colorado Constitution allows only certain types of “gambling,” which does not include internet or telephone wagering.

Q: What forms of “gambling” are expressly authorized by law?

A: The Colorado Lottery; live and off-track wagering on horse and dog racing events; bingo, raffles and charitable games licensed and regulated by the Secretary of State’s office; limited stakes gaming in casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek, as well as on tribal reservation land; and “social gambling.”

Q: What is “social gambling”?

A: State law allows “social gambling” among participants who have a “bona fide social relationship” and in which all moneys wagered goes out in prizes. A “bona fide social relationship” means that the parties must have an established social relationship based upon some other common interest other than the gambling activity. Further, participants cannot directly or indirectly participate in “professional gambling,” which is defined as “aiding or inducing another to engage in gambling, with the intent to derive a profit therefrom.” This generally means that no one other than the players can profit from the game or activity in any manner. The profit does not need to be direct profit. For example, if a liquor establishment or other commercial enterprise derives increased sales or revenues by attracting customers, even without charging a cover or other direct consideration, as the result of gambling taking place at that business, the business is considered to have profited from the activity and the activity would no longer fall under the social gambling exception. These two criteria—a bonafide social relationship and no profit motive—must be present for a gambling activity to be considered legal “social gambling.”

Q: How can online sites and telephone sports book advertise that they are “legal” and “licensed”?

A: These advertisements tell only half the story. The Internet site or sports book may be legal or licensed where the site or number is set up, usually offshore, so in that respect they are truthful. However, what the advertisements fail to mention is that placing wagers on these sites or numbers is illegal in the United States and Colorado.

Q: Can radio and television stations and newspapers legally accept advertising for “illegal” sports gambling activities?

A: No. Colorado law prohibits intentionally promoting or facilitating the commission of a criminal offense by aiding, abetting, advising or encouraging the offense. Because advertisements for such activity assist and encourage the violation of Colorado and federal law by soliciting customers in Colorado to bet illegally, the advertising would also likely violate Colorado Consumer Protection statutes regarding deceptive trade practices.

Q: Is there anything being done in Colorado to curb Internet gaming?

A: The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission has adopted a policy prohibiting persons and businesses licensed in the casino industry in Colorado from having any involvement with Internet gaming sites that can be accessed by Colorado residents.

Q: What makes a poker tournament legal or illegal?

A: The main distinction is whether the poker being played is considered “gambling.” For “gambling” to occur, three elements must be present: consideration, chance, and reward. These elements are sometimes expressed as “payment, luck, and prize.” The first level of inquiry, then, is whether all three of these components are present, because by eliminating any one of them, the activity would not meet the definition of “gambling” as set forth in Colorado law.

For example, if the consideration component is eliminated and no fee, buy-in or other money is required or solicited from the participants in a poker tournament, then prizes may be awarded to the player(s) who perform well in the tournament. This is how several organized poker tournaments are able to operate legally outside the three gaming towns. On the other hand, if an organization charges a donation, fee or other buy-in for a poker tournament or other event, then it cannot legally distribute prizes based upon who wins or plays well in the tournament or event. Such organization could legally conduct a drawing, door prize or raffle as long as the prizes are randomly awarded and are not tied to success in the tournament or event. Likewise, the organization could legally conduct the tournament for the pure entertainment value alone. By disconnecting the prize from the risk element of the poker or other event, such activity would arguably not meet the definition of gambling.

If all three elements are present, the activity is considered “gambling” and can only be conducted in the context of “social gambling” as previously defined.

Q: Are “charitable” poker tournaments allowed?

A: A misconception exists that if a poker tournament is for charity, or the prizes are donated, the charity could charge for the event. Such an event would still be illegal under Colorado law because the three elements of gambling listed above are present. Although the Colorado General Assembly approved a charitable gambling exception in the liquor code in 1979, it was repealed in 1983 because of the explosion of “charity” events, enforcement issues and problems encountered with the money actually going to the charities.

Q: Who can a person contact if they suspect that they may have an addiction problem associated with any type of gambling?

A: Anyone who believes that they may have an addiction problem with internet or telephone wagering, or any other type of gambling activity, legal or illegal, should contact the Compulsive Gambling Hotline at 1-800-522-4700.

Who can I contact if I feel that I have experienced a civil rights violation?

Colorado Civil Rights Division
1560 Broadway, Suite 1050
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: (303) 894-2997
Fax: (303) 894-7830

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is the state agency established to administer and enforce Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws in employment, housing and public accommodations. Colorado law prohibits such discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, creed, religion, disability (mental and physical), familial status (housing only), marital status (housing and public accommodations only), marriage to a co-worker (employment only), and age (employment only).

From the date of the last occurrence of the discriminatory act, there is a requirement under the law that you file your discrimination claim within specific periods of time, depending on the type of discrimination you are alleging:

  • Employment – 6 months;
  • Housing – 1 year; or
  • Public Accommodations – 60 days.

The process for filing a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission begins with a phone call to the agency. A civil rights investigator will talk with you and will ask enough questions to determine whether the problem falls within the agency’s jurisdiction. If so, the investigator will set up an intake appointment at the nearest branch office (Denver, Pueblo or Grand Junction).

There is no charge for filing a complaint, nor is the presence of an attorney required.

The Colorado Civil Rights Division CANNOT handle:

  • federal employees filing against a federal employer;
  • police and sheriff misconduct;
  • judicial or court matters;
  • prisoners' rights; and
  • labor relations issues, such as wage and hour matters, workers' compensation, or non-payment of wages

Here are some important federal contacts if you feel you have been discriminated against in your employment or housing:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Denver Field Office
303 E. 17th Avenue, Suite 510
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: (303) 866-1300/1301 or 1-800-669-4000
TTY: (303) 866-1950 or 1-800-669-6820
Fax: (303) 866-1085 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
Denver Regional Office
1670 Broadway, 23rd Floor
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: (303) 672-5440
TTY: (303) 672-5022
Fax: (303) 672-5004

Where can I find information about common law marriages in the state of Colorado?

A common-law marriage in Colorado is valid for all purposes, the same as a ceremonial marriage. Only death or divorce can terminate it. The common-law elements of a valid marriage are that the couples (1) are free to contract a valid ceremonial marriage, i.e., they are not already married to someone else; (2) hold themselves out as husband and wife; (3) consent to the marriage; (4) live together; and (5) have the reputation in the community as being married. The single most important element under the common law was the mutual consent of a couple presently to be husband and wife. All the rest were considered evidence of this consent or exchange of promises. No time requirement exists other than the time necessary to establish these circumstances. When proof of common law marriage is required, such as by an insurance company, a signed affidavit can be presented. A sample affidavit is presented here

Common-law marriage is a term used to describe a marriage that has not complied with the statutory requirements most states have enacted as necessary for a ceremonial marriage. The name came from the fact that these marriages were recognized as valid under the common law of England. In 1877, the United States Supreme Court stated, in an action that questioned the validity of a non ceremonial marriage, that marriages that were valid under common law were still valid unless the state passed a statute specifically forbidding them. Meisher v. Moore, 96 U.S. 76 (1877). Since the Colorado legislature has never enacted such a statute, Colorado is part of the minority of states that recognize the validity of common-law marriages.

If you desire a legal opinion relating to a specific situation, you should consult your own attorney.

What if I have a complaint about a local law enforcement agency?

Aside from certain statutorily defined activity, the Attorney General's Office does not have jurisdiction to investigate or prosecute local government officials, local law enforcement agencies, district attorney’s offices, or the activity of judges. With respect to local law enforcement agencies or local government offices, there is no statewide authority having immediate authority over them. 

If you have a complaint against an employee of a local law enforcement agency or government office, you should report it to that persons supervisor. If the complaint involves alleged criminal activity or conduct in violation of the code of ethics applicable to all government officials, and/or you are not satisfied with the response of the individuals supervisor, then you can report your complaint to the district attorney's office. The district attorney's office has jurisdiction to take against local government officials who act contrary to the statewide code of ethics 924-18-103(2), C.R.S.

The governor may appoint the attorney general as special prosecutor to investigate or prosecute a criminal matter, but again, the Governor must take that step; the Attorney General does not have original jurisdiction to do so. 

 

Who can I talk to about validating a marriage performed abroad?

To find out how to validate a marriage performed out of the country, we suggest contacting the Secretary of State's Office and inquiring about an apostille. A link to information on their website is provided here

The contact information for their office is:

Colorado Department of State

1700 Broadway, Suite 200

Denver, CO 80290

303-894-2200

www.sos.state.co.us

Where can I file a complaint against an attorney or a judge?

To fiel a complaint against an attorney in the state of Colorado, please contact:

Colorado Supreme Court

Attorney Regulation Counsel

Office of Attorney Regulation

Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center

1300 Broadway, Suite 500

(303) 457-5800 or

toll free - (877) 888-5870 

 

To file a complaint against a judge, please contact:

Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline 

1300 Broadway, Suite 210

Denver, CO 80203

(303) 457-5131

fax (303) 501-1143

 

Who do I contact about the laws relating to marijuana use in the state of Colorado?

The Marijuana Enforcement Division within the Department of Revenue is tasked with licensing  and regulating medical and retail marijuana in the state of Colorado. Their contact information is:

Department of Revenue,

Denver Office:

455 Sherman St., Suite 390

Denver, CO 80203,

(303) 205-8421

 

Additionally, here is a link to official state information on the laws and health effects of retail marijuana.

 

 

I am having an issue with my landlord or tenant. Who can I contact?

The Department of Local Affairs is the state department best suited to respond to rental issues in Colorado..  Their contact information is:

The Department of Local Affairs

1313 Sherman Street, Room 518

Denver, CO 80203, (303) 866-2033. 

 

 

Where can I find information about local courts?

Questions about the Colorado Court System should be directed to the Colorado Judicial Branch