Colorado Casinos Get Green Light to Restart, Avalanche of Reopenings Coming Next Week

Posted on: June 9, 2020, 11:46h. 

Last updated on: June 9, 2020, 12:07h.

Late to the party compared to gaming venues in other parts of the US, Colorado casinos will reopen next week following a three-month shutdown forced by the coronavirus.

Colorado Gaming Reopens
Colorado gaming venues, including the Saratoga Casino seen here, will reopen on June 15 and June 17. (Image: Denver Post)

Casinos in Cripple Creek, Colo. will open their doors again on June 15. Gaming properties in that city include the Century Casino & Hotel, Full House Resorts’ Bronco Billy’s, the Double Eagle, and the Midnight Rose, among others.

Gaming properties in the Centennial State’s other gaming hubs of Black Hawk and Central City will come back online on June 17. Those include a pair of venues operated by Eldorado Resorts, the Monarch Casino Black Hawk, and several smaller properties owned by Twin River Worldwide Holdings, among others.

Black Hawk and Central City are located in Gilpin County. Last Sunday, the Gilpin County Board of Public Health signed off on a directive that provides health and safety guidance to the gaming venues. The board is expected to soon approve official reopening plans.

In Teller County, home to the Cripple Creek casinos, officials there are permitting a variance order allowing the gaming properties to reopen, but with heavy restrictions, including no table games and just 50 percent of slot capacity.

Heavy Economic Toll

The Centennial State followed others in closing casinos in mid-March, but is among the slowest in terms of allowing those venues to come back online. Nevada gaming properties restarted on June 4, preceded by equivalent venues in some Southern states in May.

The lengthy closure period is taking a toll on the Colorado economy. In Gilpin County, the gaming industry accounts for 6,000 jobs, and the lost tax revenue is pinching state and municipal coffers. The economic burden of COVID-19 in the Centennial State expands to other leisure industries. In April, the state’s unemployment rate spiked to 11.3 percent from 4.5 percent in March.

For example, restaurants there were allowed to reopen two weeks ago, but at only 50 percent seating capacity, meaning proprietors can’t bring back 100 percent of furloughed staff because of challenging economics. Restaurants in Colorado can allow customers up to 50 percent of fire capacity, or 50 diners total, whichever is less, into their establishments. For casinos in Gilpin County, the figures are 50 percent of the total allowed under local fire regulations, or 175 visitors maximum.

Something to Look Forward To

As casinos are restarting throughout the country, there’s evidence suggesting gamblers are eager to return, particularly to regional venues. Some operators say reopening revenue and visits beat internal expectations.

It remains to be seen if that trend plays out in Colorado. But some data points confirm Centennial State gamblers are anxious to bet.

Sports betting launched in the state on May 1, and while there wasn’t much to wager on last month, operators there reportedly booked $25.5 million worth of action. Additionally, American Airlines recently said it’s increasing routes to Colorado for the summer months, citing better-than-expected demand.