Cripple Creek Gaming on the Rise

Butte Theater Finalizes Contracts for Professional Shows

Rick Langenberg

Whether it’s a byproduct of the new Chamonix casino and hotel project, the iconic Ice Castles attraction or growing interest in Cripple Creek activity overall, the town’s gaming numbers are on the rise.

At last week’s council meeting, Finance Director Paul Harris cited monthly figures, released by the Division of Gaming, that bode well for Cripple Creek.

According to Harris, the town’s coin-in numbers, usually regarded as the overall volume of betting proceeds generated at local casinos, soared to a 12 percent hike for January 2024, compared to the same period a year ago. In addition, Cripple Creek’s adjusted gross proceeds, which amounts to the winning figures for casinos, increased by 14 percent.

“Those are very positive numbers,” said Harris. He attributed this rise partially to the Ice  Castles attraction, which ended its debut in Cripple Creek at the end of last week. Plus, Harris cited the opening of the new $300 million Chamonix casino and hotel project, which opened its doors in late December. With this opening, the town got approximately 250 more gaming devices.

The Chamonix held a grand opening at the end of December, but didn’t really get their project in full operation mode until January.

Harris also is optimistic how these figures will fare, resulting from the recent Ice Fest that attracted good crowds and reaped the benefits of mostly good weather. If history repeats itself, the gaming numbers could take another big upward surge.

But not all business operators are happy with the recent Ice Fest.

Edie Smith, owner of Creations Everlasting, told the council she is extremely unhappy with the way the 400 block was essentially blocked off from the public during  the two-week festival. According to Smith, this action caused her business to take an estimated 60 percent business decline.  She complained that the city and festival organizers have refused to take input from operators on their side of town. “We are not helping our own,” said Smith.

Smith reminded  the council that she has been in business, running her shop in Cripple Creek that has received top awards and recognition in a number of Best Of surveys, for 16 years. Smith said she is not the only business operator in this section of town who is unhappy about how the parking and visitor situation is handled in this section of town during the festival.

Smith’s comments echoed similar concerns she voiced about the Ice Festival, and problems she has encountered in receiving cooperation from the city and event operators in addressing key issues for this section of town. “We need to work together,” stressed Smith, in making a plea to the council.

In other action, the council finalized agreements between the Butte Theater and two companies, who will be doing professional shows this year. These contracts will set the stage for summer melodrama and musical  performances and for the annual fall and Christmas shows.

Other than a few technical questions, the council appeared quite supportive of the Butte’s proposed pact with the Air Theatre company and with Chamelon Arts and Entertainment company.

Due to problems the Butte had with a previous company, responsible for handling all of its professional performances in 2023, Zack Sztanyo, the Butte Theater manager, opted to take a different direction this year.

For 2024, the Butte has decided to work with a variety of different companies, so it isn’t reliant on a single operator. Last year, the town almost didn’t have a Christmas show as a previous company promptly exited from their earlier commitments. Luckily, Thin Air Theatre came to the rescue of the town.

Also, City Administrator Frank Salvato told the council that action is now being taken to disassemble the ice from the Ice Castles’ attraction, which wrapped up last weekend.

Talks will then resume on future plans for the attraction in Cripple Creek.