How Colorado Casinos Are Rebounding From COVID Closures

Written By Dan Holmes on 08/18/2023
Colorado casinos revenue covid

The COVID-19 pandemic may seem like it’s in the rearview mirror, but the impact is still being felt by Colorado casino operators several years later.

Revenue from Colorado casinos isn’t quite where it could be, say owners who wish to see consumers return to enjoy the gaming and entertainment they offer.

Colorado has nearly 40 casinos in the state, two of them owned and operated by tribal nations. Overall, revenue is down at the casinos statewide since the industry re-opened after a 12-week shutdown for COVID in 2020.

Many of the state’s casinos are concentrated in Gilpin County, home to Black Hawk and Central City, which survive largely on the revenue from visitors who come to gamble and visit the casino resorts.

Casino revenue was down HOW MUCH?

Back in 2019, Colorado casinos had $840,319,425 in adjusted gross proceeds. That same year, the state saw $25,000,125 in taxes from CO casinos.

The following year is when COVID hit. In 2020 when CO casinos had to shut down from March until the middle of June, the AGP was $617,741,160. The state saw $80,334,101 in taxes from CO casinos. Both numbers were the lowest the state had been since 2000.

In 2021, the Colorado casinos declined from 2019 with $818,232,834 in adjusted gross proceeds, a loss of $22,086,591.

In 2022, the adjusted gross proceeds of the casinos in Colorado was $1.03 billion. The best casino year on record in history.

Nationwide, according to Forbes, casino gaming revenue plummeted 41% in 2020, largely due to closures or restrictions caused by the pandemic.

New Casinos, Renovations Hope to Entice Visitors

Golden Nugget in Cripple Creek will open within the next few weeks, a revitalized locale that used to be called The Wildwood Hotel and Casino.

A spanking new casino: Monarch Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk opened in 2022 with a grand entertainment stage, restaurants, and modern gaming floor. The Chamonix Casino Hotel Resort in Cripple Creek will debut on Dec. 26.

Even novelties are being tried at CO casinos. An owner of multiple strip clubs will open Rick’s Cabaret Steakhouse & Casino in December, as well. The property, which is located in Central City, west of Denver and near Black Hawk.

The state has also tinkered with its casino gaming rules in an effort to keep customers and attract new ones. In 2021, Colorado initiated Amendment 77, allowing casinos to offer non-limit gaming and to add more games (such as baccarat) to be installed.

Could online casinos improve gaming revenue even more in CO?

Even though CO casinos had a strong 2022, some still might not be where they want in terms of revenue. Those in the state have hinted that it might be time to legalize online casinos. Online casinos are websites or apps that allow customers to play slots, poker, and other casino table games online. Betting rules and minimum age requirements apply.

So far, even though Colorado has had legal casinos since the 1990s, no bill has passed in the state to bring online casinos to citizens.

There are seven states with online casinos, and in each, the market has been popular, and in most cases, it has not threatened the success of real casinos. There are several reasons online casinos could actually support the health of brick-and-mortar casinos.

Ultimately, the best way to recover the losses of casino revenue since COVID-19 may be for Colorado to legalize online casinos.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes writes about sports betting, sports media, and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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