Colorado casinos enjoy Rocky Mountain high

Aug 2, 2009 6:59 PM
Staff & Wire Reports |

Business at Colorado’s mountain casinos jumped about 20 percent during the first month of higher limits, new games and longer hours, according to a Denver Post analysis of preliminary data.

Despite drawing huge crowds for the first weekend of the changes — which coincided with the July Fourth holiday — the boost didn’t exceed industry expectations.

Still, casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek enjoyed an increase in monthly revenue for the first time since December 2007.

"I would say in the Cripple Creek market, it probably fell short of expectations," said Michael Smith, president of the Colorado Gaming Association. "But in the Black Hawk/Central City market, at least on the table-games revenues side, I think that met expectations."(pictured: Colorado Blackhawk Station Casino)

On July 2, Colorado casinos were allowed to raise the maximum bet from $5 to $100, add roulette and craps table games and stay open 24 hours instead of having to close at 2 a.m. The changes were approved by voters last year.

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Final revenue figures for July will be released in mid-August by the Colorado Division of Gaming.

Smith said preliminary data show that revenue for table games in all three markets was up 400 percent compared with a year ago. But slot-machine revenue increased just 10 percent to 15 percent for casinos in Black Hawk and Central City and was flat for Cripple Creek.

Based on those numbers, the industry could post adjusted gross proceeds — which is total bets minus payouts — of $78 million to $81 million for July, up from $65.7 million during the same month a year ago.

Industry officials say the higher limits and new games have attracted younger gamblers.

"We do see a lot of newer customers right now," said Larry Hannappel, chief operating officer of Century Casinos, which has a casino in Cripple Creek and one in Central City. "A good amount of them are younger players."

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