In recent months, many industries in Colorado have been impacted by global events. The tourism and casino scene have been heavily hit, suffering unforeseen financial impacts. In particular, the 12-week closure of casinos has been a huge blow to Black Hawk, which reported a loss of approximately $2 million in device fees from casinos, $2 million in gaming taxes, and around $750,000 in sales taxes, according to a report from the city. As businesses start to reopen, Coloradans will be able to start revisiting their favorite establishments that have started to enforce new health measures.
As of June 17, the city of Black Hawk announced that casinos were allowed to reopen to the public. This was welcome news to many of the city’s inhabitants and nearby tourists. As crowds return to the area, various casinos have tightened up on security for the safety of visitors and staff. This includes thermal scanning cameras by entryways, making every other slot machine dark, and periodical sanitization of all gaming surfaces. In addition, Colorado public health officials have mandated that table games should remain vacant, to limit human contact. Casino owners are also displaying bright markers on gaming floors to remind people to avoid close proximity to one another, or arranging slot machines in circular formations to promote separation.
As well as larger establishments like the Monarch Casino in Black Hawk, smaller places are also opening up. Central City’s Dostal Alley Casino is the smallest casino in Colorado, where visitors are also taking scaled-down health precautions before entry. The family-run Dostal Alley, which was opened 29-years ago is a combination between a casino and pizzeria. It is also taking unique measures to combat the pandemic. This includes a survey of symptoms for all visitors as well as wristbands for those who have successfully undergone the required temperature scan. For many of these institutions, limiting the use of their machines and weathering the shutdown means finding alternative means of making profits. For instance, Dostal Alley sold pizzas and beverages outside their backdoor during the shutdown.
During the shutdown, online gaming websites have become a popular alternative for gamers seeking to recreate a similar experience. According to a recent Verizon report, video game usage across the United States went up by 75 percent just one week after quarantine was brought into effect.
For casinos and establishments looking for a way to generate additional revenue, offering classic games online can help attract new players. Bingo is a relatively simple game to play, and it can even be used for fundraising initiatives to benefit the local community. Alternatively, it can also be reintroduced in person along with social distancing measures in place. Although the game has been traditionally linked with older players, modern twists have made it more appealing to a wider audience. To appeal to a contemporary crowd, the broad selection of 90, 75, 80, and 30-ball bingo games on Foxy Bingo includes a Friends’ themed title that caters to fans of the classic sitcom. What’s evident from this example is that the game is highly customizable and provides gaming houses a plethora of variations to offer their customers. The good news for locals is that Denver’s very own Legends of Aurora Sports Grill has resumed their weekly Wednesday bingo night since June 17, beginning at 8 pm, along with a $17 deal on large pizzas.
Moving forward, it is hard to tell how the casino industry will recover. However, by prescribing and implementing health and safety precautions, there is hope that visitors will continue to take prudent action for the continued safety of staff and owners. The stimulus aid from the CARES Act will help ease some of the burdens on heavily hit casinos, in the form of tax credits, carry back of net operating losses, and small business administration loans.