By Mark Ackerman
DELTA, Colo. (CBS4) – CBS4 has confirmed police have raided another “game of skill” parlor on Colorado’s Western Slope as part of an ongoing illegal gambling investigation.
CBI raided “Slick Ricks Entertainment 2” on Tuesday, seizing gaming machines, cash and video equipment from the storefront on Delta’s Main Street.
The Delta raid followed similar police crackdowns of “game of skill” parlors in Denver, Evans, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
“We are not doing anything illegal,” said Jennifer Hoke, who owns Slick Ricks with her father, Rick Vezakis. “It’s all games of skill.”
Hoke argues their business model is more similar to Chuck E Cheese than a casino, where patrons play video games and win prizes.
The difference at game of skill parlors — the prizes are typically cash payouts.
A newly formed Colorado Skill Games & Entertainment Association contends games of skill are legal, citing state statutes where contests of skill, speed, strength or endurance are exempt from gambling laws.
“There seems to be an ongoing concerted effort by government and law enforcement agencies to shut down small operators of these skill games entertainment centers based on a dubious interpretation of current state law,” said Chris Howes, Executive Director for Colorado Skill Games & Entertainment Association.
“We see this as an effort to do the bidding of big casinos and shut down these small businesses by being bullies, even though the businesses are perfectly legal,” Howes said.
Two jurisdictions – Colorado Springs and Pueblo have filed criminal charges against game of skill parlors. So far, none of the prosecutions have been successful. Yet, after eight raids across Colorado, none of the parlor owners have received their seized cash or property back.
“They tell you they are not pressing any charges, but they are taking all your stuff,” said Hoke.
Susan Medina with the CBI confirmed it is taking part in active investigations across the state – but would not comment further.