by Rick Langenberg:
Cripple Creek’s several-month surge in gambling winnings has encountered another case of pre-winter blues with a hefty drop-off. However, the local gaming community is still holding its own compared to their rival communities up north, and is garnering a little more than 18 percent of the state’s limited stakes gambling market place. But overall, the state’s gambling industry is showing flat numbers.
These are some of the conclusions rendered from the latest revenue report released by the state Division of Gaming. For the month of October, Cripple Creek’s assortment of 15 casinos snagged $10.8 million in losing wagers from local gamblers. This winning pot represented a 11.9 percent decline from the previous month. Although this may sound alarming, these figures hovered at nearly 1 percent more than the same period 12 months ago.
The local industry’s coin in-numbers, which reflect overall betting activity, also dropped during the same month compared to September 2012. But October is traditionally a down month for the gaming town, with many properties taking steps to brace for the winter. Plus, September 2012, capped by stellar weather, was an extremely good month for Cripple Creek and the other gaming towns. In fact, as the town recently celebrated its 21st anniversary of gaming, Cripple Creek officials and business leaders expressed bullish optimism about the town’s surge in betting activity, with the town topping the 4.250 betting-device cap for the first time in several years. Many key leaders believe the town may have turned the corner from what had become a continual downward spiral in gaming activity.
According to the most recent gaming figures, the town fared better than the overall state trend and actually was the only Colorado gaming town to post positive winning numbers compared to a year ago. Altogether, Colorado casinos generated $59.14 million in adjusted gross proceeds for the most recent recording month, which compares with $62.52 million from the period a year ago, representing a 5.2 percent decline. AGP is the amount of money wagered, minus the amount paid out in prizes or jackpots. It basically represents the casinos’ winning take. According to gaming officials, the state gambling industry, which has experienced a number of new casino openings and closings in the last year, has one additional casino that it did 12 months ago. By comparison, Cripple Creek features one new gaming establishment compared to 2011.
Black Hawk, which is still the dominant gaming town, got hit with a 11.7 percent decline in winnings from the previous month and a 7.3 percent decrease from a year ago. Central City, meanwhile generated $6 million in winnings and experienced a $6.32 percent decline from the same period in 2011 and retained its cellar spot.
Statewide, casino taxes in October 2012 totaled just over $7.8 million, a modest increase of about $40,000 (about 0.4 percent) from last month’s total of about $7.77 million. Statewide taxes this year showed a 1.4 percent decrease compared to October 2011, when statewide casino taxes totaled just over $7.91 million. Colorado’s limited gaming properties are taxed on a tiered computation schedule which begins new each July, so the tax rate can increase each month as proceeds for each casino aggregate over the year.