Colo. gaming growing

Jul 25, 2005 11:45 PM

Colorado gambling is a mixed bag with exciting action ranging from the state lottery to pari-mutuel horse racing to municipal poker tournaments to commercial and tribal casinos.

Most of the latter takes place in the casinos of Black Hawk, Central City, Cripple Creek or the tribal casinos — Ute Mountain Casino and Sky Ute Casino in Towaoc and Ignacio, Colorado.

Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek are renovated ghost towns from the days of Colorado gold mining. Once famous for the "mother load" under the ground, now these Colorado casino towns deliver a different type of jackpot!

In 2005, Colorado gambling continues to grow and thrive with rumors of new casinos surfacing all the time. If there are no new casinos going up in Black Hawk, then look in Cripple Creek or Central City as the new highway — Central City Parkway — transports players to the next Colorado casino boom.

In 2004 Cripple Creek saw the birth of two new Colorado casinos with the opening of Gold Creek Casino and Wild Horse Casino.

Black Hawk saw construction begin on the Isle of Capri’s new project between the Isle and Colorado Central Station. Also, the Mardi Gras Casino in Blackhawk, owned by Las Vegas-based Golden Gaming, purchased Golden Gulch Casino.

What to look for next? The Richman Casino in Black Hawk is expanding.

Mountain High Casino has been purchased by Ameristar Casino and is adding a hotel.

The Isle of Capri’s new casino hotel that will bridge Colorado Central Station with two other casinos is being built.

Central City casinos are booming thanks to the new parkway, and two new Main Street casinos are slated to open in 2005.

Cripple Creek offers an enjoyable alternative to the faster-paced life in the other cities.

About 120 years ago, you could find a card game or some other form of gambling in just about any of the 100 saloons in town. Later on as the Wild West was tamed, Cripple Creek banned and burned gambling machines on its main thoroughfare. The card tables were quiet until a statewide election in 1990 legalized gambling.

Gambling here, as it is in the other towns, is limited stakes, meaning that bets are limited to $5 each. Over a dozen casinos sport slot machines, video and live poker and blackjack tables. There are also bars, restaurants and entertainment.

Economically, gambling has created jobs for about 2,000 people and brought new revenues to the city for parks and recreation, historic preservation, fire and police protection.

The original intent of limited-stakes gambling in Cripple Creek was not only economic development but also preservation of historic buildings and sites. In that vein, the city has directed the design of the casinos to ensure the city maintains its National Historic District designation with the National Park Service.

For travelers looking for some fun in old-time surroundings, Cripple Creek is the ticket.