Gaming Enthusiasm Soars As Cripple Creek Casinos Reopen

Written By Ian St. Clair on 06/17/2020 - Last Updated on July 12, 2022

For the first time in three months, the doors at Cripple Creek casinos are open and the slot machines are back to life.

The variance requests for Gilpin and Teller counties were approved last week. These exemptions from the Colorado’s “safer-at-home” policy are why the casinos in Cripple Creek could reopen on Monday.

The casinos in Black Hawk and Central City will reopen today (June 17).

There may have been some uncertainty as to how retail casinos could operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. If there was, it’s now gone.

“Cripple Creek gaming establishments opened up with a great deal of player excitement,” said Dan Hartman, the director of the Colorado Division of Gaming. “Everyone seemed to respect the safety and health guidelines that were put in place.

“It is nice to have the casinos open again, and everyone enjoyed them in a safe manner.”

Cripple Creek casinos cash in

The response from patrons backs that up.

Eric Rose, vice president of operations for Century Casinos, said the Century Casino & Hotel in Cripple Creek had three times the business of a normal Monday in June.

Keep in mind that’s with occupancy restrictions in place and only slots open to customers.

As for table games, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will revisit them in three weeks.

“Overall, it was a great day,” Rose said. “Operations were smooth. Customers were happy and following health guidelines. It was a long three months. We were very excited to have employees back to work and happy to have customers playing slots again.”

Black Hawk, Central City casinos open today

As for the restrictions, here’s what you can expect if you plan to head to Black Hawk or Central City today.

Under the new guidelines from the CDPHE:

  • Casino patrons must maintain 6 feet of social distancing.
  • The casino’s capacity limit is 50%.
  • Gatherings can’t exceed 175 people indoors.
  • Outdoor gatherings can’t exceed 250 people.
  • Staff members must wear face coverings.
  • Casinos must post signage on doors that directs guests who are experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms not to enter.

Monarch Casino and Resort in Black Hawk plans to take it a step further.

According to The Denver Post, Monarch will use a color code on its website and social media, which indicates the occupancy level at the casino. The Post adds that the code will go from green for low occupancy from yellow to orange to red, which means it’s busy.

Another big day in Gilpin County?

If the reopening day in Cripple Creek is any indication, Gilpin County is bound for a huge day.

And it needs it.

Gilpin County Commissioner Gail Watson said that gaming is the county’s only industry and provides more than half of its annual revenue.

Watson said to PlayColorado last week:

“Every month that the casinos are closed, we lose an estimated $1 million in gaming tax revenue. Allowing the casinos to open with the necessary safety precautions puts us on the long road back to financial recovery. It also allows our residents who work in the casinos to return to work.”

Since Black Hawk and Central City are closer to the Denver metro area, you can see why the casinos are excited to reopen their doors and fire up the slot machines again.

“We would expect the same excitement in Black Hawk and Central City,” Hartman said. “And we hope for a safe and smooth opening (today).”

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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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