Couple betting that ‘small’ can win

Jul 17, 2007 1:39 AM

A couple who have operated a private investigative service opened the state’s smallest casino last week in Cripple Creek.

The casino, O’Riley’s Poker Palace, features five tables, each seating 10 poker players, in a former house on Bennett Avenue that co-owners Dan and Sherrie O’Riley originally bought as a vacation home.

O’Riley’s will be the farthest west of any gambling hall on Bennett Avenue, two blocks west of the Gold Rush Hotel & Casino and Legends Casino.

"We believe that we are going to do really well," General Manager Haley Altman told the Gazette newspaper. "There are a lot of people who would like to play poker but are afraid of being bullied in a casino by experienced players. We will make them comfortable and teach them how to play the game."

O’Riley’s is the first casino opened in Cripple Creek since Southwest Casino Corp. opened Uncle Sam’s Casino in 1999. At the time, Uncle Sam’s was the smallest of Cripple Creek’s 18 gambling halls, with 65 slot machines, one more than Dostal Alley Saloon in Central City.

Cripple Creek may not have to wait long for its next casino opening — the Wildwood Casino is under construction and set to open in January. The 65,000-squarefoot complex will include 714 slot machines and card tables, making it the city’s largest gambling hall.

O’Riley’s first applied in April 2005 for a casino license, which was awarded by state regulators a year later. Construction delays kept O’Riley’s from opening for a year; Dan O’Riley did much of the work to convert the house to a casino, Altman said.

The casino is starting out with 22 employees and is hiring another 12 employees, said Altman, who previously had been table games manager for the Gold Rush.