Casinos in Colorado Forced to Shut Down Table Games
Casinos in one section of Colorado have been forced to shut down their table game action due to a spoke in coronavirus cases.
The coronavirus strikes again! Casinos in Colorado have just been told they must shut down table games due to an increase in positive cases. Gilpin County is home to two major gambling towns in the state, Central City and Black Hawk. These areas are a big sector for tourism as well as locals. This past weekend, the casinos were open but without popular table games like blackjack and craps. The area is now under a Safer at Home status, reaching a middle tier in the coronavirus restrictions.
While the casinos in these two towns stop table game action, Cripple Creek never reopened. For this region, consideration is being given to closing the casinos permanently.
Casino Restriction Changes
In this section of the Safer at Home order, the table games are closed off and the capacity of each casinos is reduced. An enclosed area of a casino cannot have more than 100 people. Before it was 500 individuals. Alcohol sales must stop at 11pm.
The changes come as the county reached a positive test rate of 2.65%. Just last week, around 22,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported. Reports show that hospitals are facing shortages when it comes to staff and this will only grow as the case count increases in the coming days.
As case counts increased in Gilpin County, the local commissioner commented on what the casinos were doing instead of fully closing. Ron Engels said that the gaming floors have been divided into several enclosed spaces. This helps a casino to increase its capacity, which helps operators to stay open.
Since the closure earlier in the year, when COVID-19 began, the casinos have struggled to earn revenues. There is already a loss for the year from the closure and new restrictions are sure to cut into profits as well. Potential is there for the state to earn more via table games, but they must be operational to do so.
Raising Betting Limits Per Hand
The closure of table games comes less than two weeks after voters in Colorado chose to allow casinos to increase the betting limit per hand on games. Amendment 77 was approved on November 3rd, allowing table games in Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City to increase to $100 per hand.
Last year, table games provided 13% of the gross gaming revenue for the area of Black Hawk and a much lower 8% in Cripple Creek. In other markets that are comparable to Colorado, the percentage connected to table games is much higher, around 20% or more.
Higher table betting limits could increase the earnings in the state to well over $1.75 million. The increase in wagers will appeal to high rollers, which would provide more overnight stays and trips. Bringing in a new level of clientele will help to increase overall revenues as a whole in the gaming sector.
For now, though, the table game cap will not increase as the games are not in operation. It is unclear as to how long the table games will be shut down for. If the case counts continue to increase in the county, then the casinos could keep the games out of rotation or shut down further in the future.
The hope is that the new Safer at Home order will be followed, with mask wearing and social distancing, so the number of positive tests remains at a minimum. The casino industry cannot afford another full shutdown and really need to get the table games going at the higher table limits to ensure new revenues for gaming towns and operators. We shall see in the coming weeks if the casinos are able to offer table games again or if they continue to be shut down.