Jeff Mosher, Cripple Creek Marketing and Special Events Director
Cripple Creek will celebrate 30 years of legalized gambling this October!!
Three mountain towns were struggling to attract tourists and in 1990 they were successful in convincing 57% of the Colorado voters to pass Amendment 4, which legalized gambling in their communities. The industry generates $9.6 billion dollars a year with 28% of gaming taxes going into the State Historical Fund. The first casinos in Cripple Creek opened in October of 1991and gamblers continue to make the trek to Cripple Creek to strike it rich.
Many of the casinos in Cripple Creek began with mom and pop shops.
Now there are a number of casinos in town that have national and international ties. The eb and flow of the casino business follows supply and demand trends. Each casino tries to attract customers with specials, promotions, and various perks and club membership benefits. Casinos have hosted entertainers and special events of their own throughout the years. They support local sports teams, community activities, nonprofit organizations and contribute significantly to the city budget.
The forced casino closure by the state in response to the COIVD-19 pandemic was devastating to the casino industry and to the revenue for Cripple Creek.
The city lost approximately $2.3 million dollars in revenue during the closure. Casino management worked tirelessly to get their businesses opened under stringent guidelines from the county and state health departments. They quickly established protocol which allowed them to re-open and maintain safe and positive experiences for their customers. It also allowed the city to collect the device fees so instrumental for city operations and services. The response from the gaming community was reassuring and immediate.
To continue to try to entice tourists to Cripple Creek, the industry has endorsed a handful of legislation measures to enhance the experience in recent years. In 2015 City Council voted to allow alcohol service, within most of the casinos, 24 hours a day. In 2019 Proposition DD was passed to allow for sports betting in Colorado, which requires support from the gaming industry. Most recently Amendment 77 was passed, which removed betting limits that were in place since the passage of gaming in the state.
Removing limits on the amount for a single bet allows not only Cripple Creek, but the entire state to become a destination for serious gamblers that otherwise would travel to other states for their gaming entertainment.
Currently there is renewed investments by the gaming industry in Cripple Creek. Wildwood Casino recently opened a new 101 room hotel. Bronco Billy’s Casino has a huge development under construction to offer additional hotel and event space. Double Eagle Casino and Triple Crown Casinos recently remodeled many of their hotel rooms, following the lead from Century Casino. There are also plans for even more hotel rooms, and there are rumors of another casino considering Cripple Creek for a new facility.
30 years ago, the citizens of Colorado approved gambling in Cripple Creek to encourage tourism and the industry is alive and well and flourishes in our community.
We are fortunate that the casino owners continue to support the community and the Cripple Creek vibe. We certainly are a unique tourism destination and the financial benefits of being a gaming community continues to allow the city to meet the needs of our residents, business owners, employees, service providers, and visitors alike. We are fortunate to be one of three communities in the state that can fill the gaming tourism niche. We are also proud to be able to maintain our quaint, historical atmosphere while remaining a friendly Colorado mountain town.
Congratulations to our casino owners on the 30th anniversary of gaming in Colorado! We look forward to the next 30 years.