Colorado Counties to Close Casinos, Gaming Tables Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

  • Casinos in Teller County have to close on Monday as the county moves to “Level Orange”
  • Gilpin County moved to “Level Yellow” on Friday, which means no more table games for casinos
  • Officials in Teller County requested that casinos be able to stay open
  • Cases of COVID-19 have been rising in Colorado, leading to new restrictions in some counties
Female doctor putting on Colorado flag mask
Rising COVID-19 cases in Colorado mean that casinos in Teller County have to close, while those in Gilpin County are required to shut down table games. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New restrictions

Two counties in Colorado are implementing restrictions on commercial casinos as a result of rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. Teller and Gilpin Counties, the two areas of the state with the most casinos, are taking mitigation steps that will make things difficult for gambling venues in the short term.

seriously damaging to Teller County”

Officials in Teller County announced on Saturday that the region is going to the “Orange: High Risk” level of Colorado’s COVID-19 scale. As of 5pm local time on Monday, the state is requiring new restrictions to be put in place in the county, including the closing of all casinos. County officials labeled these new restrictions as “seriously damaging to Teller County” and believe that they are premature.

Gilpin County moved to “Level Yellow: Concern” on Friday. As a result, there will be no more table games permitted at the casinos in Central City and Black Hawk. 

Teller County changes

As part of the new restrictions in Teller County, all casinos will be closed unless there is an exception granted by state health officials. As part of “Level Orange,” casinos are the only businesses that have to close. County commissioners want these gaming properties to remain open.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is considering the request to keep casinos open and will inform county officials of its decision by November 16. Table games have not been allowed at Cripple Creek casinos since the initial shutdown in March, despite the properties reopening on June 15.

Other new restrictions taking effect in the county include limits on different types of gatherings, as well as capacity reductions at restaurants and other commercial businesses. The state health department will monitor incidence rates in the county for a week or two before there is a reevaluation of these measures.

Curtailments in Gilpin County

A letter sent on Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Public Health to Gilpin County outlined that while incidence rates are in line with “Level Orange,” there will be a gradual introduction of restrictions found in “Level Yellow.” 

concern about the impact of these curtailments on casino employees

These restrictions, which took effect on November 14, mean that casinos cannot offer any table games, will be limited to a maximum capacity of 100 people, and are prohibited from selling alcohol after 11pm. Video gaming machines such as slots will still be available at the casinos. Central City Mayor Jeremy Fey has expressed concern about the impact of these curtailments on casino employees. 

Dealing with COVID-19

Colorado has seen rising COVID-19 numbers in recent weeks. Its 14-day change in daily new cases is 118% and the average daily number of new cases has been 4,648 over the past week. 

The state currently has five different colors to indicate the level of restrictions in a given part of the state. “Level Green” is the least restrictive, followed by “Level Blue: Cautious,” “Level Yellow: Concern,” and “Level Orange: High Risk.” Finally, “Level Red” is a stay at home order.

Other states are also restricting casinos as a result of rising COVID-19 cases. Michigan’s three commercial casinos are set to close for three weeks on Wednesday. There are curfews on the sale of beverages and food in New York and New Jersey casinos, while Massachusetts casinos have to close between 9:30pm and 5:30am daily.

Impact on Colorado casinos

These latest restrictions are a blow for casinos in Colorado. They originally had to shut down in mid-March before starting to reopen from June 15. Even after reopening, there were significant restrictions still in place. Many local communities rely on casino tax revenues, which have been hampered because of the shutdowns and restrictions.

On a positive note, voters in the state approved Amendment 77 on November 3. This gives residents in Cripple Creek, Central City, and Black Hawk the ability to decide for themselves if casinos could remove the $100 cap on table game bets. It also allows the gambling towns to add new game types to their casinos, such as baccarat.