Like many corners of Colorado that had high hopes for 2020, the state’s gambling capital of Gilpin County has absorbed some serious body blows in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The novel coronavirus shut down casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and across the state from March 17 through mid-June. Now Gilpin leaders are trying to reckon with a more than $4.5 million hole in the county’s projected tax income, Commissioner Ron Engels said.
“There will be absolutely no capital projects in next year’s budget,” said Engels.
The county’s unemployment rate, which spiked over 20% in April, still paced the state in July at 12%, according to labor department data.
This past weekend is providing sparks of optimism in Black Hawk and Central City and putting people back to work. Those sparks are coming in the form of dice, cards, roulette wheels and footballs.
Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Tuesday moved Gilpin County to the “Protect our Neighbors” phase of coronavirus restrictions, a rollback that allows table games like blackjack, craps, and poker to resume for the first time since spring. It also greatly increases the number of people casinos can allow on the floor at one time, up to 500 from the previous limit of 175. Some Black Hawk establishments, including the Monarch Casino, welcomed players back Friday morning.
“Our dealers are really excited to be back at work,” Monarch chief operating officer David Farahi said Thursday, shortly after 100 returning