Return To Normal? Casinos In Colorado May Hit The Jackpot This Weekend

Written By Ian St. Clair on 05/26/2021 - Last Updated on January 7, 2022
Memorial Day weekend Colorado casinos

Think back to a year ago.

Colorado casinos were closed, and there was no indication as to when they might re-open.

Like the rest of life, “normal” was a foreign word.

Over the last few months, there’s been a slow return to normalcy. COVID-19 mandates and restrictions have eased across the state, and people have finally started to feel safe leaving their homes.

Casinos in Colorado expecting big crowds for Memorial Day weekend

This Memorial Day weekend feels like a culmination of the last year. For the first time, people have a reason to celebrate.

There is finally a reason to breathe freely again.

One way we could see that is the mad rush to Colorado’s three gaming towns. Casinos in Colorado are expecting huge crowds this weekend.

As Jay Bean, the vice president of casino at the Ameristar in Black Hawk, said to PlayColorado:

“Obviously this is a pretty special Memorial Day in the course of recent history. I’m expecting a pretty good crowd for a few different reasons. With this being one of our first holidays with the mandates loosening, I think we’re expecting a great crowd of folks who want to come out and enjoy themselves. When you couple that with the recent changes we’ve had in the state around the removal of betting limits and the addition of games (like baccarat), this is really our first large holiday where we can invite folks up to experience the new phase of our casino.”

COVID-19 mandates and restrictions loosening

On top of the loosening of the mandates and restrictions at the casinos, gamblers also have no-limit gaming and new games on casino floors to welcome them back.

Both were introduced about two weeks ago and as Erica Ferris said, have already been a major hit at the Monarch Casino Resort. Ferris is the director of casino marketing.

“The addition of our poker room a few weeks ago has just exploded,” she said. “It’s been packed every weekend since we opened. Baccarat is starting to really gain some traction. There are people who are learning to play. There are those folks who are used to playing that are now coming up. I think the new limits and table games is what people have really gravitated toward. They can really play the way they want to play. So I think it’s been huge for our guests.”

If you visited a casino recently, you’ll know you had to wear a mask and get a temperature check before you could enter.

That is no longer the case.

So if you do head to the casinos this weekend, you’ll still see partitions on table games and slot machines and workers will still wear masks.

But for guests, masks are not required, though they are recommended for those who aren’t fully vaccinated.

“We will be about two weeks with being in Level Clear,” Ferris said. “Level Clear means we don’t have any restrictions. There’s no mask restrictions. There’s no temperature scans at the entrance. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve just seen so many more people. People are excited to be out and about.”

A return to a more normal environment

Add it all up and that’s why there is an expectation of giant crowds at Colorado casinos.

The first indication that “normal” was in our future came in March with a perfect storm of events: the second round of stimulus checks, tax returns, gorgeous weather and spring break.

The crowd this weekend is expected to be even bigger.

“This weekend is our first chance to welcome our guests and interact with them in an environment that we haven’t seen in over a year,” Bean said. “And everyone is excited about that. It’s a return to a little bit more of a normal environment. And the crowds that we’re used to seeing on a weekend or on a holiday weekend being able to welcome them back in that number will mean a lot for us.”

Added Ferris: “We are excited that we are able to finally really provide these offerings to Coloradans. From a guest perspective, it’s nice to be able to come in, play your favorite game, eat, talk with people. It has that gorgeous social and beautiful environment that this property was built to provide.”

Memorial Day weekend a reason to celebrate

Given where we were at this time a year ago, it’s a long time coming.

As Dan Hartman, director for the Colorado Division of Gaming, said:

“We really don’t know what to expect as far as what this weekend will look like since we don’t have any historical data on bets over Memorial Day weekend since last year looked a lot different than it does this year with open casinos and the numerous sportsbooks operating. We’re excited to see people return to the casinos with COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, the no betting limits now in play, and the new games offered as of May 1.   We’re also watching how this month closes out with the NHL and NBA playoffs and how those translate into returns for the operators and the state tax revenues.”

“Normal” isn’t such a foreign word any longer. And that’s a reason to celebrate.

It’s a reason to finally breathe freely again.

As Bean said:

“This is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time. For the last year at least. We’re incredibly excited at a property level. The entire team is looking forward to seeing some friendly faces, from our regular guests to new guests on our floor too, because we’re expecting to see some new faces this holiday. We’re just executing it to be a home run of a weekend.”

Photo by AP / David Zalubowski
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Ian St. Clair

Ian is an award-winning sports journalist and a University of Northern Colorado graduate. He’s a Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. He broke into the gambling industry right as Colorado launched legal sports betting in 2020. Ian now manages the sites for some of the biggest gambling markets in North America and is an analyst for PlayColorado.

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