Colorado Casinos Reopen Doors After Three-Month Closure

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Colorado casinos have gotten the go-ahead from the state to reopen, and many in Cripple Creek did so on Monday morning. Casinos in Black Hawk and Central City will follow suit today. The first phase for reopening includes slot machines, restaurants and a lengthy list of guidelines.

Officials in Teller County, where Cripple Creek is located, applied to the state for a variance to the state’s current stay-at-home order. The variance was granted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on June 7. The county initially submitted an application to the CDPHE in May, requesting a variance to portions of Executive Order D 20 044 Safer at Home and Public Health Order 20-28 Safer at Home mandates. While the department partially approved the variance, the CDPHE rejected the casino portion of the request.

According to the state, casinos are limited to 50% occupancy, and there cannot be more than 175 people in an indoor space or more than 250 in an outdoor space. The goal is 6-foot social distancing, which has become standard fare across the U.S.

Casinos: Face coverings, health checks and social distancing

Among the other rules imposed by the state, according to Fox 21 News:

  • All casino workers will be monitored daily for symptoms, and told to stay at home if they are symptomatic;
  • Casino workers must wear face coverings while at work; and
  • Signs prohibiting entrance for those with COVID-like symptoms must be posted at entrances.

According to the variance, the CDPHE will reconsider when to open table games approximately “three weeks” from the June 7 letter, which will occur on or about June 29. In addition, the Dept. of Health has established guidelines for how many new cases are acceptable before it imposes a mitigation plan or rescinds the variance.

Gilpin County, where casino hotbeds Black Hawk and Central City are located, also applied to the state for a variance. Casinos in both locations are scheduled to open on Wednesday with similar restrictions, according to a Colorado Public Radio report. Black Hawk has a mix of large and small casinos, so while some of the smaller casinos had an easier time preparing to reopen, county officials decided to make it a mass event, rather than just a few at a time.

The Gilpin County Board of Public Health approved the county’s 50-page variance on Sunday, providing guidance for a phased reopening.

“We know that there is pent-up demand,” Gilpin County Commissioner Ron Engles said. “We didn’t want to be in a situation where our smaller casinos were open for a couple of days and they were completely overrun and didn’t have the capacity to handle all of the people who wanted to come up and gamble.”

Social distancing extends to men’s room

According to multiple media reports, the counties offered up detailed plans for reopening, including anything from closing off some urinals in the men’s rooms to maintaining social-distancing guidelines to installing buttons on slot machines that allow customers to notify staff when they are done, so the machines and areas can be disinfected.

Among the casinos that will be reopening is the Monarch Casino Resort Spa, which launched a mobile/online sportsbook in May. Several other sportsbooks, including FanDuel and DraftKings, have offered mobile sports betting since Colorado went live on May 1.

“Our focus during the 92-day forced closure has been to ensure we reopen a property that is better and safer than when we closed,” reads a press release sent out by the casino on Sunday.

“We have missed serving our guests and working with our team members over the past couple of months and we are really looking forward to opening our doors in the safest possible manner,” said Monarch Casino Resort Spa COO David Farahi.

With seven Colorado sportsbooks now live on a mobile basis, a large percentage of the state’s 33 nontribal casinos are making preparations to launch retail sports betting in the next several months, pending state approval.

 

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Jill Dorson

Jill has covered everything from steeplechase to the NFL and then some during a more than 30-year career in sports journalism. The highlight of her career was covering Oakland Raiders during the Charles Woodson/Jon Gruden era, including the infamous “Snow Bowl” and the Raiders’ 2003 trip to Super Bowl XXXVII. Her specialty these days is covering sports betting legislation across the country.

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