In yet another business jolt for the southern Teller County area, Bronco Billy’s casino, considered one of the main anchor properties of Cripple Creek since 1991, has entered into a sales agreement with a Las Vegas company for $30 million.
If the deal moves forward, Billy’s, which just recently completed an ambitious expansion into the former Gold Rush casino, will be owned by Full House Resorts, Inc. Full House has owned and operated casinos in a variety of locales including South Dakota, New Mexico, Michigan, Indiana and Nevada.
Several key financial steps, though, remain before the deal can be finalized
The news has provided another shock for a community already reeling from the purchase of the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company. However, both officials from Full House Resorts and the Pioneer Group, owners of Bronco Billy’s Casino and Hotel, have stressed that the current management team and all of its employees will remain in place.
“Nothing is changing,” said Bronco Billy’s general manager Marc Murphy. “Customers can expect a seamless transition. The Bronco Billy’s name and brand stays in place. It really is the best of both worlds. We are just changing owners,” added Murphy, who plans to remain the general manager for at least three more years.
According to Murphy, the change could provide more of a bonus for the casino’s lineup of 300-plus employees, allowing them to work for a larger company.
Murphy is scheduled to provide a slight update regarding the pending sale during the Oct. 7 Cripple Creek City Council meeting. The update is the first item on the meeting agenda, which begins at 5:30 p.m. The Bronco Billy’s general manager has indicated that a possible sale of their property has been mulled for the last several years, with the hiring of CBRE, Inc., to sell Bronco Billy’s.
“We are starting our 25th year. We have been together for a long time. Some of the partners were looking for a change,” said Murphy.
Even with assurances of “business as usual” environment for the popular casino, the news comes as a big surprise to gaming observers. Billy’s completed one of their most ambitious expansions, comprised of 20,000-square-feet, into the former Gold Rush. With the new addition, Billy’s sports a new banquet center, a microbrew beer tap room, more gaming action and hotel rooms, along with an 800-seat outdoor amphitheater.
Altogether, the casino has done at least eight expansions, since the early 1990s. It now sports more than 800 slot machines and features poker, blackjack, 3-card poker, craps and roulette tables, a steakhouse and several additional restaurants. It is the second largest casino group in town.
Bronco Billy’s is regarded as one of the steadier success stories in Cripple Creek, with the theme of a “true Colorado-style casino.” Ironically, when Billy’s started, it began as a small place with only about 100 betting devices.
Throughout its history, Murphy has remained a strong community player. In addition, the casino has supported a number of key festivals, such as Donkey Derby Days and the American Salute to Veterans Rally.
Full House officials say they don’t want to make any management changes. They have indicated an interest in using some of gaming property’s additional acreage for further expansions. According to Murphy, the company is interested in possibly doing another hotel and re-opening the Palladium.
However, in order for the deal to proceed, the transaction must close by a certain date. The casino also must meet certain financial goals.
Murphy expects the deal to get finalized by the end of this year or in the first quarter of 2016.
The news of the sale also comes with the celebration of the 24th anniversary of limited stakes gaming. Bronco Billy’s is one of only two surviving casinos that opened during the first week of gaming.