Colorado casinos rockin’ high

Jul 5, 2005 2:27 AM

Colorado casinos in May recorded their second best month of revenues, with $66.2 million in gross gaming revenues.

The amount was up nearly 6.4 percent from the $62.2 million posted in April, and 4 percent more than the $63.6 million recorded in May 2004.

The May total was surpassed only by the $67.3 million generated in July 2004. Gamers hope this summer’s tourist trade produces another record win.

Black Hawk’s 21 casinos produced $46.6 million in gross gaming revenue in May, while Cripple Creek’s 19 casinos totaled $12.9 million.

Although Central City’s seven casinos produced only $6.6 million, the amount was a healthy 75.8 percent more than the $3.7 million generated in May of last year.

Central City has benefited from a new road to help lure tourists to the tiny mining town.

"It’s made a huge difference," said Buddy Schmalz, mayor of Central City. "A lot of people are coming up the parkway. We get a first shot at them now."

Before the highway opened, casino-goers had to drive a two-lane road through Black Hawk, and over the past few years fewer people have opted to drive the extra mile past Black Hawk to Central City.

"We’ve seen new faces and more traffic during the week," said Joe Behm, marketing director at Fortune Valley, Central City’s biggest and most modern casino, and the one closest to Black Hawk. "People are staying longer. They’re staying through midnight because the road access is so much better and easier."

The highway opening even prompted the re-opening of two casinos that had closed in recent years.