Colorado Has 2 Haunted Casinos. How Did They Get That Way?

Written By Hill Kerby on 12/21/2023
Photo of a ghost with logos from two Cripple Creek casinos on a story about both of them being haunted.

It may be the season for “A Christmas Carol” and its ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, but what about the spirits that live in Colorado casinos?

According to legend, two Colorado casinos are haunted. Cripple Creek’s Bronco Billy’s and Colorado Grande Casino both have histories of guests receiving visits from spirits on several occasions.

In fact, Cripple Creek has a reputation of being one of the most haunted cities in America. The town’s history dates back to the 1890s, during the end of the Colorado gold rush. It grew to over 30,000 people in the early 1900s before dwindling to below 2,000 half a century later.

During that time, Cripple Creek had mining accidents, fires, violent labor disputes between unions and mine owners, floods, crime and mutiny. In 1989, Colorado voted to legalize casino gambling, which opened the door for restoration efforts to take place as historic buildings became new Cripple Creek casinos.

These casinos attracted waves of visitors from Colorado Springs and beyond. Visitors to places like Bronco Billy’s and the Colorado Grande have learned that some of the buildings’ original inhabitants may have never left.

Maggie, the ‘Grande’ ghost

Today, “Maggie” is synonymous with the Colorado Grande Casino in multiple ways. 

Its restaurant, Maggie’s, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner from Wednesdays through Sundays. It’s also the name of a well-known ghost inside the casino.

Maggie has established her home inside the Grande for decades and has made her presence known in a variety of ways. Funny enough, none involve Maggie’s Restaurant.

You don’t need to see to believe

Some people have reported seeing Maggie, an attractive lady around 25 years old. She wears her hair high and dresses in a white shirtwaist, long cotton skirt and high-heeled boots.

While others haven’t seen her, they say they’ve smelled her rose-scented perfume or heard her high heels echoing through the halls of the building’s top two floors. Even more have heard her soprano singing voice emanating from the venue’s old ballroom. 

Maggie also has a reputation for playing slot machines on the casino floor after closing hours. Security guards have said they’ve seen her with a male friend and have caught her on camera.

As you might imagine, that footage inadvertently disappeared.

Where did Maggie come from, and why did she choose what is now the Colorado Grande to hang out? Your guess is as good as ours, but the building played home to many businesses over the years, including medical offices, a mortuary and a Masonic Lodge ballroom.

Seeing Lilly at Billy’s

Several reports have come from guests and employees seeing a friendly 6-year-old girl named “Lilly,” dating back to when a part of Bronco Billy’s called itself Buffalo Billy’s.

The present-day Bronco Billy’s takes up half a block. Still, you can identify the former Buffalo Billy’s section by going outside onto Bennett Avenue and locating its original sign, “Turf Club Room 1896.” 

Lilly’s roots go back to the Turf Club when she made the place her forever home. We have no idea why she chose the Turf Club, but she’s had plenty of people to visit at its ever-popular successor.

Stories of run-ins

Several themes have emerged from run-ins with Lilly, including reporting that she looked incredibly lifelike. Multiple people have seen her atop a staircase and holding an old rag doll in her arms.

One employee reported an encounter in which he asked the little girl if she was lost while sitting on the stairs. She told him she lived there, prompting the employee to search for a security guard.

Lilly vanished before the employee came back.

Another encounter occurred when a mom, after finishing a slot machine session, found her young daughter on the nearby staircase “playing with Lilly.” 

Further reports of Lilly continue to this day, where she frequently reminds people of her presence. Some people have said they’ve seen her looking down on the street from an above window.

According to rumors, she also enjoys drawing and writing on walls at the top of the staircase. When people clean the walls, she writes and draws on them again.

Lastly, Lilly likes balloons, but only specific colors. People have talked about seeing purple balloons parading through the casino, while blue balloons on the premises have popped out of nowhere.

More haunted places in Cripple Creek

Bronco Billy’s and the Colorado Grande are just two haunted Cripple Creek casinos on a longer list of places with reported hauntings. Other places include:

  • The Jail Museum
  • The Palace Hotel and Casino (closed)
  • Imperial Hotel & Restaurant (closed)
  • Hotel St. Nicholas, which was initially a hospital for prospectors and their families and later a psychiatric ward.
  • Hospitality House, formerly Teller County Hospital. This was Cripple Creek’s second hospital after St. Nicholas.
  • The Victor Hotel
Photo by Shutterstock / Illustration by PlayColorado
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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