Cripple Creek and Colorado Casinos Hitting the Jackpot

Rick Langenberg

Cripple Creek and Colorado casinos have wagered a number of bets over the years, in an effort to generate more revenue and to better attract more gambling action, which has been diverted to other areas across the country.

But apparently, the removal of betting limits and addition of new games has hit a better winning combination than past pursuits, such as establishing 24-hour gaming and having $100 limits on single-wagers. Those expansions didn’t create much of a long-term impact in Cripple Creek.

However, the big expansion of gaming, aimed at attracting more high-rollers, and the ending of the pandemic restrictions, has definitely made a difference, according to state gaming officials.  This has paved the way for more lodging projects and expansions in the three gaming towns.

Last week, the Colorado Department of Revenue released a report, indicating that players have wagered close to $1 billion in bets in casinos in the three towns over the last year. In addition, the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission approved the distribution of $148.6 million from the state’s original and extending gaming funds. That marks a nearly 40 percent hike over the previous year. The amount wagered at slots and table games also represented a new record.

“Folks are returning to the entertainment destinations,” said Peggi O’Keefe, executive director of the Colorado Gaming Association, according to a recent article in The (Colorado Springs) Gazette.

O’Keefe, along with other gaming officials, have attributed this spike to a more wide-open gambling environment, in the wake of the passage of Amendment 77. The removal of bet limits and advent of new games has helped the industry, at least from a perception standpoint.

Plus, the desire for more people to get out in response to the ending of the pandemic, has had a positive impact on Cripple Creek gaming.

The reports for total coin-in wagers and adjusted gross proceeds in Cripple Creek, provided regularly by Finance Director Paul Harris, have also been fairly positive. All indications are that Cripple Creek will have one its best years for gaming, despite a lean amount of total betting devices.

Keeping an eye on the state

That’s the good  news.

The bad  news is that the city of Cripple Creek and Teller County still need to  keep a watchful eye on the state, which tried to change the distribution formula at the end of the final legislative session. This could have had a bad financial impact for Cripple Creek and Teller County, and prompted an 11th hour lobbying campaign.

What irked local officials is that a big change was proposed without any input from the gaming communities and impacted areas.

There is currently a one-year period for a temporary bill that was approved to make adjustments, while a new committee is reviewing a long-term solution.

Solomon Malick, the head lobbyist for the city, expressed cautious optimism regarding this situation during a presentation before the city council recently with the new committee setup. He said Cripple Creek and Black Hawk, once bitter enemies, have been working together more on the legislative front.

Another concern deals with sports betting revenue, as the city has gotten nothing out of this new activity based on the allotment established by the state. This is a sore spot with local elected leaders, and another area of concern.

Still, officials are quite optimistic about the expansion efforts that are occurring in Cripple Creek, along with plans for more housing.