The history of gambling in the United States is intrinsically tied to the state of Colorado. After decades of being illegal, gambling returned to Colorado in 1991 and has been growing ever since. One of the first casinos in the US was actually opened in Colorado in 1822, making gambling one of the state’s great pastimes. Like most other parts of the country, betting was banned for a long time, but in 1991, the citizens of Colorado voted to bring it back.
Of course, Colorado still restricts the locations of casinos inside the Centennial State. According to state bylaws, the only places where casinos can legally operate are on the state’s Ute reservations, as well as the three small towns of Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. Outside of the Ute reservations, all of Colorado’s casinos are located in these three former mining towns.
The tiny city of Black Hawk has become the center of Colorado’s increasingly robust gambling industry. Sitting less than 40 miles west of downtown Denver, Black Hawk is less than two square miles in size and has a population of a little over 100 people, making it the smallest city in Colorado.
However, with its high concentration of casinos, Black Hawk has become a popular destination for tourists and people from all corners of the Centennial State.
At last count, 18 casinos operate inside Black Hawk. Most of them are open 24/7 and offer free parking to their guests. Since 2015, Black Hawk casinos are allowed to serve alcohol to guests 24/7.
While Colorado has a statewide indoor smoking ban that includes casinos, most places in Black Hawk have temperature-controlled outdoor smoking patios. Visitors to Black Hawk will also find over 1,000 hotel rooms within the city limits, creating plenty of room for folks to relax and stay awhile.
Gambling in Black Hawk
Before going to Black Hawk to gamble, it’s important to be aware of some of the gambling laws in Black Hawk and the state of Colorado. For starters, 21 means 21. Casinos in Black Hawk and everywhere else in Colorado will be strict when it comes to admitting anyone under the age of 21.
Some casinos will have amenities like arcades that will be appealing to underage guests, but nobody under 21 will be allowed on the casino floor. Many casinos won’t even allow anyone under 21 as a guest in one of their restaurants.
Eager gamblers will also want to keep in mind that Colorado puts a $100 limit on all bets. Curiously, when legal gambling first came back to Colorado in 1991, the state limit was $5 per bet. In 2009, Colorado agreed to increase the betting limit to $100. That’s a big step up, but still an important piece of information for any high rollers.
There are also some restrictions on the games available at Colorado casinos. Most notably, you won’t find baccarat at any casino in Black Hawk or anywhere else in Colorado.
However, most other casino games are available after the state made craps and roulette legal in 2008. Most Black Hawk casinos also offer a wide array of slot machines, as well as table games like blackjack, four-card poker, three-card poker and Texas Hold ’em. Video poker is also legal in Colorado, although not all casinos in Black Hawk offer it to their guests.
The biggest development in gambling at Black Hawk casinos is the legalization of sports gambling. In 2019, Colorado residents passed a proposal to legalize sportsbooks in Colorado.
Starting in May 2020, all Colorado casinos are able to operate a sportsbook. The best part is that unlike casino games, there are no betting limits for sports gambling at Black Hawk casinos.
Sports betting at the casinos in Black Hawk
As of May 1, 2020, not only is sports betting legal at all of the casinos in Colorado, but online sportsbooks are also legal for anyone within the borders of the Centennial State. Bettors who can’t make it to their favorite Black Hawk casino to make a wager can do so at various websites and mobile apps. Online sportsbooks use geotracking technology to confirm that someone is physically in the state of Colorado before placing a bet.
Of course, just because sports betting is legal in Colorado doesn’t mean that every Black Hawk casino has a sportsbook that’s open for business. Some of Colorado’s casinos might need a little time, perhaps a year or two, to get up to speed.
However, betting on sports is likely to catch on quickly in Colorado, especially since the state has a pro sports franchise in all of the major American sports leagues. Over time, most of Black Hawk’s casinos will likely get a license to accept sports wagers.
But until that happens, there are several online sportsbooks available for everyone who lives in Colorado or pays a visit to the Centennial State.
Sports betting online in Colorado
While sports betting is new to the state of Colorado, there were a few states ahead of it with regard to legalizing sports gambling. As a result, roughly a dozen online sportsbooks are already operating in the US.
Not all of them are guaranteed to expand operations to the Centennial State, but Colorado bettors should have plenty of online options. For starters, both DraftKings and FanDuel are making themselves available to Colorado sports bettors online.
Both companies are leaders in the daily fantasy sports industry and have made the natural move to open online sportsbooks as well.
With online sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel, you can either place bets on their websites or download the app onto any mobile device. As long as you’re anywhere in the state of Colorado, you’ll be able to place bets.
Once you sign up for an account, confirm that you’re 21 and deposit money into your account, the online sportsbooks will use their geotracking technology to confirm that you are within Colorado’s borders. At that point, you’ll be free to bet on just about any sporting event in the world.
Online sportsbooks offer everything from point spread bets to moneyline bets to futures betting to prop bets for all of the major American sports leagues, as well as tennis, golf, rugby, cricket, auto-racing and more.
The only caveat is that you can only make bets while you’re physically in Colorado. Even if you’re a Colorado resident, you won’t be able to place bets when you travel out of state unless you visit a state that has also legalized sports gambling.
On the bright side, out-of-state tourists who are visiting Colorado can start playing at online sportsbooks as soon as they step foot in the state, so they can play and win during their visit even if they aren’t Colorado residents.
Best casinos in Black Hawk
While the state of Colorado has dozens of casinos, the city of Black Hawk has some of the best the Centennial State has to offer. Of course, not every casino in Black Hawk is identical.
Each one has something special that makes it unique. Here is a closer look at some of the Black Hawk casinos that visitors might find particularly appealing.
Having recently opened in 2013, Saratoga Casino in Black Hawk is one of the city’s newest and most exciting casinos. Guests will find close to a dozen table games, including blackjack, craps, high-card flush poker and roulette.
There are also close to 500 slot machines at Saratoga Casino, including new and high-end games like Invaders from the Planet Moolah and Shark Week, both of which feature a 55-inch TV to make the game feel more interactive.
Saratoga Casino also offers a wide selection of promotions, most notably for players who are Weekday Warriors and play Monday through Thursday. There are also Pit Play Saturdays for folks who like to hit the tables on Saturday nights.
Finally, there is the Players Extras Club, which offers free membership and a host of great benefits. The more points you collect, the more perks, discounts and rewards you’ll receive.
Of course, when you need to take a break from the gaming floor, Saratoga Casino has some great options. It starts with the Main Street Cafe, which has breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes at any time of day.
Visitors can also check out the Main Floor Bar to get a complimentary beer, wine or cocktail before they go back to playing. When it’s time to relax, the Mill City Bar is the perfect lounge for you to sit down and stay awhile, with a great selection of drinks and a chill vibe.
The Lodge Casino
The Lodge Casino has been a mainstay in Black Hawk since 1998. It was also ahead of its time as the first casino in the city to offer guests hotel rooms and dining options on-site, which you might have guessed from its name.
Equally important, the Lodge Casino is one of the largest casinos in Black Hawk. Bettors can find nearly 1,000 slot machines and over a dozen tables. In addition to craps and roulette, this 24/7 casino specializes in several types of blackjack and poker, including pai gow.
The biggest promotion at the Lodge Casino is the aptly named Winners Club. Joining the Winners Club is free. In fact, it’s better than free because it comes with 50 points to get you started and a free meal.
There are four levels within the club, based on the number of points you accumulate. As you work your way from one level to the next, the perks get better, including free food and hotel stays, tickets to exclusive events, and even the chance to reserve your favorite slot machine.
While visitors have the option of staying in the casino 24/7, there is also a hotel on-site to get some rest. All 50 rooms have been recently remodeled and come with flat-screen TVs, fridges, beautiful views of the mountains and room service.
If you don’t mind leaving your room to get some food, the Lodge Casino has five great dining options on the premises. The White Buffalo Grille is the best choice for gourmet food, including lamb and lobster tail.
The Seasons Buffet offers the greatest variety, while Pho Noodle Bar cooks up Asian delicacies. Finally, both Java-n-Creme and Jake’s Deli are casual places for casino-goers who want to eat quickly and get back to the playing floor.
Lady Luck Casino
Lady Luck Casino has the distinction and honor of being the first casino to open in Black Hawk after Colorado legalized gambling. For the longest time, the Lady Luck served as Colorado Central Station, and the gaming floor is thematically decorated like an 1880s railroad station.
In addition to the charm of the casino, players will also find over 400 slot machines and over a dozen gaming tables. Blackjack, poker and Texas Hold ’em are the most popular games at Lady Luck, which also offers video poker.
At Lady Luck Casino, guests can sign up for the casino’s Fan Club so they can earn rewards points and benefits. As long as you use your card when playing, you’ll start to accumulate points and work your way toward gifts, free meals, hotel stays and even cash back. You can also use the casino’s skywalk to head over to Isle Black Hawk, which is Lady Luck’s sister casino.
Just a few feet from the casino is the Lady Luck Hotel, where every room provides guests with plenty of space, as well as a desk, coffee maker and an in-room safe. With 164 rooms, you won’t have to worry about finding a room.
When it’s time to take a short break, Otis & Henry’s Bar and Grill is a great place to grab a drink, appetizers and traditional pub fare like steak, ribs and sandwiches. You can also get breakfast dishes there any time of day.
For something quick and easy, Kitt’s Kart has pizza, hot dogs and a great selection of candy and cookies.
If size matters, it doesn’t get any better than the Ameristar Casino. It’s easily the biggest casino in Black Hawk, with over 1,200 slot machines, many of which allow players to bet the state maximum of $100.
Ameristar also has 40 tables, over half of which are dedicated to poker. Even if flop poker, high-card flush, and Head’s Up Hold ’em aren’t your favorite games, you’ll also be able to find craps, roulette and blackjack at this two-floor casino.
At Ameristar, joining the Star Awards Program gives players the chance to reach five levels of rewards. You can redeem accumulated points for cash at 50 cents to the dollar.
You can also receive complimentary hotel stays and earn preferred seating at the casino’s restaurants. On top of that, Ameristar is always launching new promotions to keep everything fresh.
Finally, the massive size of the Ameristar Casino extends to the hotel: 33 stories and over 500 rooms. Outside of Denver, the hotel is the tallest building in the state, which means the rooftop pool has some spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.
Just in case the pool isn’t enough, there is also a full-service spa with saunas, hot tubs and treatment rooms where guests can receive massages, manicures, pedicures and facials. With all of that at your fingertips, you’re bound to get hungry. When that happens, Ameristar has six restaurants and bars to satisfy you no matter what you’re craving.
Whether you want to grab a quick bite, enjoy a casual sit-down meal, or indulge in some of the finest cuisine in Black Hawk, Ameristar has a place for you. You can also spend time at Bar 8042, where you’ll find great ambiance and live entertainment.