Help On The Horizon: City Of Black Hawk, Colorado Sports Bettors Alleviate Financial Strain On Casinos

Written By Derek Helling on 04/28/2020
Black Hawk sports betting

Friday will be a historic day in Colorado. It could signal the end of a historically negative period for casino operators in the city of Black Hawk and around the state, as well.

One of Colorado’s most prominent gambling municipalities has taken action to help out the casinos within its jurisdiction. Coloradans in every city could soon lend a hand as well.

What is the city of Black Hawk doing to help out its casino operators?

In normal times, Black Hawk assesses a fee on every slot and table on casinos’ gaming floors. The problem with that, however, is those slots and tables haven’t seen any gaming in weeks.

Since the state shuttered its casinos on March 16, those devices have turned in zero revenue for casinos. Estimates peg the losses of CO casinos statewide at $13.5 million per week.

Obviously, that includes revenue from all sources, not just slots and table games. The fees on those slots and table games are what Black Hawk targeted, however.

The city waived those fees for the remainder of March and all of April. The same estimate says that has saved the city’s casinos a total of $1.4 million so far.

The city hasn’t announced whether it will continue to waive fees through May should the shutdown endure. Operators, and the over 10,000 people they employ, hope that it’s safe to resume normal operations soon.

So do the treasuries of Black Hawk and CO. Every one of those dollars lost to COVID-19 is fractions of that dollar lost in local and state tax revenue.

Compound that with income tax the state won’t collect because of furloughed workers and the cost of unemployment for those people. All in all, the sooner it’s safe to fire those slots and tables back up, the better for everyone involved.

There are no surefire plans for that ramp up in Black Hawk right now, however. That doesn’t mean there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. May 1 brings a welcome reprieve.

How Coloradans all over the state can help out Black Hawk casinos

On Friday, a statewide moratorium on legal sports betting sunsets. Those operators who are ready to do so and have the necessary approval from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission can start actually accepting wagers that day.

While brick-and-mortar sportsbooks remain closed as long as the casinos do, online operators will be free to take bets. That could mean some actual revenue for casinos whose online sports betting products are live.

Not all licensees have confirmed they will be ready for May 1. Some have, however, including DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s online sportsbooks.

Operators know not to expect a deluge of handle coming in. The fact that there are no MLB, MLS or NBA games in action currently tempers those expectations.

However, any revenue is better than none. Expect sportsbooks to push futures markets for the coming college football and NFL seasons along with UFC events that may be approaching.

The waived fees and any sports betting handle won’t be sufficient to cover the losses that Black Hawk casinos are experiencing right now. They do help, however, and the more Coloradans who place wagers at online sportsbooks while casinos are shuttered, the more that aid will matter.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling