Friday is the official launch day for sports betting in Colorado. The gaming industry in the state, like other states, has been suffering substantial losses as the world struggles with a worldwide shutdown of sports, and casinos are also shut down and have been since March.
Some states are slowly lifting some stay-at-home orders, and allowing some non-essential businesses to reopen. Casinos in Colorado are relegated to certain areas, namely old mining towns.
These towns were part of the historic 1859 Gold Rush, known as the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. When the miners moved out, the towns started to experience a huge decay until a 1990 initiative passed, allowing gambling and casinos in those mining towns.
One such town, Black Hawk, has 12 casinos and a robust gambling economy, with visitors from all over Colorado and other nearby states like Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. The city of Black Hawk announced this week that they are waiving certain fees that casinos have to pay to the city.
Fee Waivers Intended To Help Struggling Casinos During Pandemic
The total amount of fees the city of Black Hawk is waiving is in the neighborhood of $1.4 million. The way the fees have been set up is that each casino in the town pays Black Hawk a flat fee for each slot machine and table on the premise of the casino.
The town of Black Hawk takes in $700,000 each month from the casinos for these game fees. The fees that Black Hawk waived concerned the fees per mobile device, with these fees being waived for March and April.
The amount of those fees came out to $1.4 million. The CEO of Monarch Casino and Resort, David Farahi, said that casino operators and city council members of Black Hawk had a meeting in March. Farahi said that the city of Black Hawk “has been so supportive of the plight of the casinos during these troubling times. They couldn’t have been more kind and thoughtful through this entire ordeal.”
Farahi talked to FOX 31 News in Denver and said that they have zero income, just like all of his colleagues at Black Hawk and Cripple Creek, which is another mining town south of Denver.
Casino Owners Hopeful Money Can Be Made
Farahi and others are hopeful that some of these lost revenues might not be as bad with the forthcoming sports betting launch on May 1. Farahi said that over 98% of the staff at Monarch Casino and Resort had to be furloughed in March.
“That was an extremely difficult decision for our Monarch family,” Farahi said. However, the CEO said “there was little that could be done. They did establish an emergency fund for employees to help them with essential items like rent and mortgage payments and groceries. But it’s still a hardship for our team members.”
During the interview, Farahi said he’s grateful to the city of Black Hawk for waiving the mobile device fees, as it helps a little. He was asked if he sees any sunshine in the near future.
He added, “I haven’t been able to stick my head up to look at the end of the tunnel right now. We’ve got our heads down, just trying to batten down the hatches as much as possible, right now, it’s very bleak.”
Farahi, the President of the Colorado Gaming Association, added, “Every casino in America is closed right now, and it’s a very trying time.”