Since 1991, the fine people of Colorado have enjoyed legal gambling. Betting is an important part of Colorado’s history, as one of the first casinos in the US was inside Colorado’s border in 1822. Unfortunately, gambling went away for a while, not coming back until horse and greyhound racing was allowed in 1950. Finally, the residents of Colorado voted to bring back casino gaming in 1991.
The catch is that residents of Colorado and visitors to the Centennial State can’t find casinos in all corners of the state. Colorado currently limits casinos to Ute reservations and three small towns: Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. It’s in these three picturesque mountain towns that you’ll find most of the casinos within the state of Colorado.
The town of Cripple Creek is one of the biggest gambling hot spots in Colorado. Of course, finding Cripple Creek on a map won’t be easy.
It’s more than 100 miles south of Denver, sitting west of Colorado Springs. It was once a camp for gold miners and has a population of just over 1,000 people. Oddly enough, it remains a place where folks try to strike gold, but in a different way at one of the town’s casinos.
There are 14 casinos in the small town of Cripple Creek, most of which are open to gamblers 24 hours a day, which wasn’t allowed until 2009. Starting in 2015, the Cripple Creek casinos were allowed to serve alcohol 24 hours a day. However, a statewide indoor smoking ban was extended to casinos.
In terms of getting to Cripple Creek, which sits southwest of Pikes Peak, most of the casinos offer transportation to and from Denver and Colorado Springs, making it easier for visitors to traverse Colorado’s majestic mountains and find their way to the casinos.
Gambling in Cripple Creek
The first thing visitors need to understand about visiting Cripple Creek casinos is that most are strict when it comes to checking that everyone who enters is at least 21. There are some casinos that have arcades that cater to underage patrons. However, most Cripple Creek casinos won’t allow anyone under 21 onto the casino floor. Many won’t even allow underaged guests into their restaurants.
Another law that’s unique to Colorado is bet limits of $100. This may not seem like a lot, but it’s worth noting that when gambling first returned to Colorado in 1991, the limit was $5. It wasn’t until 2009 that the bet limit went up to $100.
Most of the traditional casino games are available at Cripple Creek casinos. Depending on the casino, there is a wide variety of slot machines available.
All card games played at a table are also legal at Colorado casinos, including three-card poker, four-card poker, ultimate Texas Hold ’em and blackjack. Video poker is also legal in Cripple Creek casinos. However, some of the smaller casinos offer only video blackjack and not live table blackjack.
Unfortunately, not all traditional casino games are legal in Colorado, most notably baccarat. The good news is that both craps and roulette were made legal in Colorado in 2008 and are now available at most Cripple Creek casinos.
The other piece of good news for casinos in the Centennial State is that sports betting has been legalized. In 2019, the people of Colorado voted to pass Proposition DD, which made sports betting legal in both casinos and online sportsbooks starting in May 2020.
Not only does this expand the betting options available to patrons of Cripple Creek casinos, but also there is no wager limit for sports betting in Colorado like there is for casino games.
Sports betting at the casinos in Cripple Creek
Starting May 1, 2020, sports betting is legal everywhere within Colorado’s borders. This includes all of the state’s casinos, as well as sportsbooks that operate online via websites and mobile apps.
Online sportsbooks utilize geotracking technology to ensure the bettor is within the boundaries of Colorado. Meanwhile, in-person betting will be available at any of the state’s casinos.
However, sports betting becoming legal in Colorado doesn’t guarantee that every casino in Cripple Creek and elsewhere in the state will have a sportsbook, especially soon after the launch date. The number of Colorado casinos with a sportsbook will likely grow over time, as sports betting will likely grow in popularity, and more casinos will become licensed to accept sports wagers.
In the meantime, online sportsbooks should be widely available in Colorado while casinos catch up with the state’s new laws.
Sports betting online in Colorado
With a handful of states legalizing sports betting already, there are roughly a dozen sportsbooks already operating in the US. There’s no way to guarantee that all of them will become available in Colorado.
But both Centennial State residents and visitors to Colorado should have plenty of options, including DraftKings and FanDuel, which are both household names in daily fantasy sports and operate sportsbooks that will function in Colorado.
Whether you use the website of a site like DraftKings or FanDuel or download the app on your favorite mobile device, you can make sports bets from anywhere inside the state of Colorado. Online sportsbooks require you to create an account, deposit money into your account, confirm that you are at least 21 and use geotracking technology to confirm your location.
But once all of that is taken care of, you’ll be free to place wagers on virtually any sporting event. Betting will be available on all of the major American sports leagues, as well as tennis, golf, auto racing and even lesser-known sports like rugby and cricket, depending on what the sportsbook chooses to offer.
Unfortunately, even if you live in the state of Colorado, you won’t be able to place bets if you leave the state on vacation unless you travel to another state that has legal sports betting. On the other hand, out-of-state visitors will be able to utilize online sportsbooks when they’re inside Colorado’s borders.
Best casinos in Cripple Creek
Of the dozens of casinos in the Colorado, some of the best are in Cripple Creek. For the most part, you can’t go wrong no matter what casino you choose to visit. However, not all casinos are created equal, so let’s take a closer look at the Cripple Creek casinos that stand out from the pack.
If you want all of the frills and amenities of a Las Vegas casino tucked in the mountains of Colorado, Wildwood might be your best option. Wildwood offers the largest gaming floor in Cripple Creek at roughly 45,000 square feet. That allows it to fit over 500 slot machines on the casino floor, more than any other Cripple Creek casino.
But the fun doesn’t end with slot machines. Wildwood has a room open 24 hours for three-card poker, Texas Hold ’em, and ultimate Texas Hold ’em. There are also tables available for craps, roulette and blackjack.
Wildwood also prides itself on giving away large sums of money to its visitors. Two years in a row, the casino has earned the distinction of “Most Money Won in Cripple Creek.”
Going hand-in-hand with its reputation for producing winners is its wide array of promotions. For starters, the Players Club is free to sign up for and gives players the chance to earn $5 cashback for every 1,000 points they earn on the casino floor.
Wildwood is also friendly for seniors, offering Senior Day promotions every Tuesday and Thursday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Finally, there’s nothing wrong with the accommodations that Wildwood provides for its players at the Gold King Mountain Inn. While the hotel is within walking distance of the casino, Wildwood provides a shuttle.
The hotel is a great way to relax when players need a break from the casino floor. It features both an indoor pool and spa, as well as a fitness center and free Wi-Fi.
There is also no shortage of food options while playing at the Wildwood. There are upscale options for things as simple as coffee and yogurt, as well as Woody’s Sports Bar & Grill and Joe’s Diner. Most importantly, players at Wildwood can get a $0.99 shrimp cocktail 24/7.
The Double Eagle Hotel & Casino in Cripple Creek offers gaming and amenities 24/7. At over 15,000 square feet, the casino space is one of the largest in town.
There are actually two floors to the casino, creating enough room for 450 slot machines. Between the Wizard of Oz and Star Trek, the Double Eagle has slot machines to fit everyone’s preference.
This casino also stands out above the rest with ticket-in-ticket-out technology, which allows players to use slot machines without having to worry about keeping a bucket full of coins. Elsewhere on the gaming floor are tables for poker, blackjack, craps and roulette.
Among the popular promotions at the Double Eager is membership in the Premier Club, which is free to join. Points earned on your Premier Club card can earn you food credits, entry into slot tournaments, and even a free night at the casino’s hotel.
Every hotel room comes with free Wi-Fi, a flatscreen TV and $12 worth of credit for breakfast in the morning. The hotel also offers guests free valet parking, as well as shuttle service that runs daily from 7 a.m. to midnight.
When all of the games start to make you hungry, the Double Eagle has two restaurants that are open 24/7. Lombard’s is perfect for a quick bite to eat any time, while Winfield’s is better for a sit-down meal with fine cuisine, including crab cakes, shrimp cocktails and more.
The name might throw you a little bit, but don’t sleep on Bronco Billy’s Casino; it’s one of the best in Cripple Creek. In fact, it’s frequently been voted the best casino in Cripple Creek.
Visitors can find over 400 slot machines on the premises, ranging from 5-cent machines to 25-cent machines to slots that take even larger bets. If 24/7 slot machines aren’t enough, Bronco Billy’s offers some of the best video poker in town with close to a dozen different varieties that most casinos in Colorado don’t have. The fun doesn’t end there, either; Bronco Billy’s also has most table games, including blackjack, craps and roulette.
Bronco Billy’s also likes to take care of its guests with a ton of promotions. MVP Club members can rack up points that they can redeem later for cash back, merchandise, free food or even free stays in the casino’s hotel. But the promotions don’t end there.
Bronco Billy’s has daily slot tournaments, free plays available during your birthday month and great offers for anyone over 50 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s those kinds of deals that keep people coming back to Bronco Billy’s and make it one of the best casinos in Cripple Creek.
Bronco Billy’s encourages players to stay across the street at the casino’s hotel. All of the rooms have been remodeled in recent years to include free Wi-Fi and LCD televisions. Hotel guests will also get a free breakfast when they return to the casino and visit the Home Cafe.
In addition to the Home Cafe, Bronco Billy’s casino has four other restaurants on site, so there are plenty of great options no matter what you’re craving. For a little Mexican, you can try Baja Billy’s Cantina. For wood-fired pizza, try the Crippled Cow.
The aptly-named Steakhouse at Bronco Billy’s is one of the best steakhouses anywhere in Colorado, featuring both fine cuisine and excellent wine. Finally, the casino has added a more casual dining option in Rudy’s Diner. It’s an excellent option for burgers (including veggie burgers), hot dogs and milkshakes.