Cripple Creek Casinos Remain Open Under Enhanced COVID-19 Restrictions From Colorado Health Department

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Despite the imposition of enhanced COVID-19 restrictions in Teller County, casinos in Cripple Creek can remain open, Colorado health officials ruled Monday evening.

As of 5 p.m. MST on Monday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) moved Teller County from yellow (concern) to orange (high risk) on the state’s COVID-19 dial. Under the new restrictions, Cripple Creek casinos can stay open at 25% capacity or with a limit of 50 people, whichever is less, a spokesperson from the Colorado State Joint Information Center told CoBets via email.

Previously, several Teller County officials expressed concern that a number of local casinos could be on the verge of shutdown as the state imposed stricter restrictions on the county. The county received an exemption from the state that allowed casinos to stay open on a limited basis.

Enhanced COVID-19 restrictions

County commissioners Marc Dettenrieder, Bob Campbell, and Norm Steen wrote a letter to state health department officials dated Nov. 14, urging the state to grant the county an exemption.

“Moving to Orange will affect all of Teller County, but especially the casino industry in Cripple Creek,” the county commissioners wrote. “Casinos have been singled out as the only industry required to close under the Orange designation with the exception of alcohol-only bars. We argued that casinos should remain open similar to restaurants, gyms, retail establishments, and schools.”

Other guidelines from the health department restrict personal gatherings to no more than 10 people from a maximum of two households. While restaurants may operate at 25% of posted occupancy limits, down from previous restrictions of 50%, the total capacity cannot exceed 50 people, excluding staff/employees.

A boon to Cripple Creek

Casinos statewide received approval from the state to reopen in June after a three-month shutdown. Teller County, where Cripple Creek is located, initially applied for a variance to the state’s “Safer at Home” public health order a month earlier. Casinos in Cripple Creek reopened on June 17, one day before their counterparts in Black Hawk and Central City. While casinos across the state utilized a phased approach for reopening, restaurants and slot machines opened during the first phase.

There are more than a dozen casinos in Cripple Creek, a former gold-mining camp located about 50 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. A handful of Cripple Creek casinos offer retail sports betting, including Billy’s Casino, Johnny Nolon’s Casino, and Colorado Grande Casino.

In 2019, commercial gaming revenue in Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, and Central City came in at $834 million, according to the American Gaming Association. It marked the fourth consecutive year that gaming revenue in the three historic towns eclipsed $800 million.

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Matt is a veteran writer with a specific focus on the emerging sports gambling market. During Matt's two decade career in journalism, he has written for the New York Times, Forbes, The Guardian, Reuters and CBSSports.com among others. In his spare time, Matt is an avid reader, a weekend tennis player and a frequent embarrassment to the sport of running.

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