~ by Rick Langenberg ~
Cripple Creek casinos have been spared another shutdown order, following an intensive lobbying campaign by local leaders and business operators.
In addition, state authorities played a key role in the casino savior action, as local gaming establishments will continue to operate at a reduced capacity level, at least for now.
Just as the deadline clock was about to strike and the casino closure signals were gearing up for a return flashing in Cripple Creek, the county received word that local gaming establishments would be considered “indoor events for the purposes of the Dial Level Status Orange-High Risk.” As a result, they weren’t required to close their doors as 5 p.m. (Monday evening) as previously indicated.
According to a county press release, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Casino Association, and the staff of Governor Jared Polis worked together to determine that casinos could continue operating at the reduced levels indicated by the COVID-19 Dial Level Orange.
Late Friday, Teller County was put on a Level Orange designation, which according to the mandate, required casinos to close. In less than a 10-day period, Teller shifted from a Blue (normal) Safer-at-Home designation to that of Orange, which is an at-risk classification, one step below that of a virtual lockdown.
This order, though, prompted an outcry by the Teller County commissioners and many other local leaders. The governor’s office was invaded by emails and pleas to keep the casinos open, under a reduced capacity level, similar to what restaurants and other businesses will face. The state gaming association also has done much lobbying with the governor’s office.
Local leaders stressed the economic impacts of such a closure. During the initial coronavirus outbreak in March, casinos were shut down for three months, a scenario that turned Cripple Creek into a virtual ghost town and clobbered the region will millions in lost revenue. More than 1,000 people are employed in the casino industry
In an earlier interview, Interim Cripple Creek City Administrator Ray White stated that another casino shutdown would be devastating for the entire region. He also indicated that the city government may screech to a halt, except for essential services. The city has proposed the smallest annual budget in 25 years, but with the closure of the casinos, it would get further slashed to nightmare levels.
Even though the casinos got spared another closure action, the county will remain at a Level Orange level.
As a result, this Wednesday’s Cripple Creek City Council meeting will be conducted completely online. No in-person attendance is permitted.
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