Rocky Mountain Gaming To Acquire Two Cripple Creek Casinos

Written By Phil West on 12/18/2023
Map of Cripple Creek, CO on a story about two of the town's casinos being sold.

Two Cripple Creek casinos are being sold. The new owners promise a return to saloon-style gambling at the establishments.

Rocky Mountain Gaming CC, LLC has finalized a deal to acquire Johnny Nolon’s Casino and Colorado Grande Casino.

The Colorado Division of Gaming must approve the sale and licensing.

Establishments will have ‘the old Cripple Creek casino feel

There are more than 40 commercial casinos in Colorado, all of them in three mountain towns. There are Cripple Creek casinos, Black Hawk casinos and Central City casinos. Two tribal casinos operate in the southwest corner of the state.

In a press release on Dec. 13, Rocky Mountain Gaming said it “entered into definitive agreements with Minter Holdings, LLC to acquire the operating assets of Johnny Nolon’s Casino, and G Investments LLC to acquire the operating assets of the Colorado Grande Casino. Both properties are managed by David Minter through Minter Holdings LLC.”

In the release, one of Rocky Mountain’s principal owners, Joseph J. Canfora, said the casinos won’t be splashy gambling halls.

“I realized that Johnny Nolon’s and Colorado Grande presented the opportunity to maintain the old Cripple Creek casino feel that the locals had grown accustomed to.”

Another Rocky Mountain principal, David Ross, pointed out that the reinvented Golden Nugget and the soon-to-be opening Chamonix Casino represent one version of what the Cripple Creek gaming experience is like. Johnny Nolon’s and Colorado Grande will broaden that experience for visitors who want to play like locals.

“Those two operators, at either end of the town, will help attract new visitors to Cripple Creek, and we think there’s an opportunity for our properties to offer a true locals experience that caters to individuals looking for loose slots and personal service.”

Johnny Nolon’s has roots back to the Colorado gold rush

Cripple Creek has emerged as one of Colorado’s prime gaming destinations. Eight of state’s casinos are in the town west of Colorado Springs. That includes the former Wildwood Casino, which recently became the Golden Nugget and boasts that at 9,593 feet in elevation, it’s the “world’s highest casino.”

Canfora, in his prior role as managing partner and CEO of American Gaming Group, oversaw the sale of Wildwood to Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta.

Johnny Nolon’s was one of the first casinos to open in Colorado after casino gambling became legal in 1991. But it has an even richer history, dating back to 1891. It was a saloon when Cripple Creek was in full gold rush mode. The casino’s namesake had a vision for what the town needed, according to a website on the early Cripple Creek pioneer.

“Noticing that the town lacked a good saloon and gambling house, and not being one for getting too dirty, he decided to open the Johnny Nolon Saloon & Gambling Emporium on the corner of Third and Bennett. Because they kept their pool tables level, cleaned the spittoons regularly and stocked only the finest liquors and cigars, the establishment was known as the ‘Gentlemen’s Popular Resort.’”

Not enjoying as colorful a history as Johnny Nolon’s, the Colorado Grande Casino sits across the street. It has seven hotel rooms in an adjoining hotel (dubbed the Lucky 7), 225 slots and video poker machines and four tables for poker, blackjack and roulette.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Phil West

Phil West is an Austin-based writer and editor who has been published in a wide range of publications throughout his career, including the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times,, The Striker, and The Daily Dot. He's currently writing about Austin FC (and more generally, about MLS and world soccer) at Verde All Day, an independent Substack-hosted and subscriber-supported site. He's also a Senior Lecturer in The Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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