Cripple Creek casinos are preparing to offer new games and higher limits after council members in the Teller County city on Wednesday took the next step that will allow both to start on May 1.
The resolution is a step Black Hawk and Central City took in December after Colorado voters on Nov. 4 approved Amendment 77, which allows the three cities to increase bet limits and offer additional games. On the same day, Cripple Creek voters also approved a ballot question eliminating the single bet limit of $100 at casinos and gave the city council authority to authorize more games.
The resolution allows the city’s 12 casinos to offer 11 versions of baccarat, three forms of keno, big 6 wheel, new versions of poker, blackjack and roulette, as well as a variety of side bets and any other games approved by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission. The state panel must still approve rules for the games before casinos can begin offering them, which Amendment 77 allows beginning May 1.
The broad resolution means casinos “won’t have to come back to council for approval every time the commission approves new games,” Cripple Creek Interim City Administrator Ray White said. “Several casino owners said they had never heard of some of these games. Of course, it’s up to them to decide which new games they will offer.”
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Bets in Colorado casinos are limited to $100 on slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette and craps, but none can offer table games under current state COVID-19 restrictions in Gilpin and Teller counties. Casinos can only offer table games in a county under COVID Level Green; both counties are now under COVID Level Orange, or three levels above Green. The gaming halls remain open under an exception to state COVID restrictions.
Matt Andrighetti, general manager of the Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek, and Baxter Lee, general manager of Bronco Billy’s Casino & Hotel, said both casinos are preparing to offer higher limits and new games on May 1. Both were unsure what additional games they would offer and said bet limits generally would be set for each customer based on their casino‘s “familiarity with the customer.”
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“We are very happy and we look forward to being able to offer expanded games and bet limits to people that prefer that,” Lee said. “This is transformational. Now that Colorado has lifted the (betting) limits, this will be the first time we can offer a Las Vegas experience to our table games customers. I am hoping it won’t be long before we will be able to offer table games again to our customers.”
Andrighetti said the higher limits and new games will arrive at nearly the same time that the casino completes its 102-room hotel that has been under construction since mid-2019. He said the additional rooms and higher bet limits will allow the casino to “attract a new type of player who wants to stay for two or three nights and prefers to make higher bets” than now allowed in the state.
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“It is a win for Cripple Creek. It will help advance the gaming industry, but it is not the Messiah of changes,” Andrighetti said. “It will help bolster Cripple Creek as a gaming destination both in Colorado and nationwide,” He expects most casinos will limit bets for most customers to $500 or $1,000, but could offer even higher limits — $2,000 or $3,000 — in special high-limit rooms for top customers.
The Pikes Peak Courier contributed to this story.