By Steve Beauregard
Although there are bingo halls, state-sponsored lottery ticket booths, and even a horse racing track, there are no casinos in Denver.
There are, however, 36 casinos in Colorado, several of which are within an hour’s drive of Denver.
The Denver metropolitan area also has one horse racing track, Arapahoe Park. However it’s unlike the many horse racing tracks you’ll find back east or in Southern California, where slot machines, table games and poker rooms are present. In Denver, the horse racing tracks are just for betting on the ponies.
In addition, gambling-lovers in the Mile High city do not have access to a nearby Indian casino. Unlike other western cities, such as Albuquerque and Phoenix, both of which have Indian casinos situated nearby on tribal lands on the outskirts of town, (or even inside the metropolitan area boundary), Denver has no Indian casinos, in, or near the area.
Casinos in Mountain Towns
As a result, the closest casinos to Denver are in the nearby mountain gambling communities of Black Hawk and Central City.
Black Hawk and Central City are old, historic, charming mining towns situated in the foothills west of Denver. The two rivaling gambling destinations are about two miles apart from each other, and fight furiously for the attention of Denver gamblers.
These range from small mom and pop casinos tucked away in old historic buildings from the 1800’s, to brand new and spacious upscale hotel/casinos – albeit ones not as large or extravagant as casinos found on the Las Vegas Strip.
The two towns are less than an hour’s drive from downtown Denver, and are easily accessible in just about any type of weather. (In case you’re unaware, Denver can get massive snowstorms that can close down most major roads).
To be more exact, the distance from Denver to the Black Hawk/Central City corridor is 40 miles. It usually takes you from 45 minutes to an hour to get there from most areas in Denver in normal traffic conditions.
Near Colorado Springs
There is another mountain gambling town to the south, Cripple Creek, which has several casinos. However it’s 109 miles away (around a 2 hour drive), and as a result, is more of a destination for gamblers in the nearby Colorado Springs area.
Shuttles from Denver to Black Hawk/Central City
As for Denver residents, there are also a few different casino shuttle operators, who run numerous daily roundtrips between Denver and the casinos in Black Hawk and Central City.
Casino shuttle buses like the “Ramblin’ Express”, for example, make it pretty easy to get to these casinos from Denver, and have numerous hop on points throughout town.
Roundtrip tickets start at $20 cash to the driver, or $25 when prepaid online and go on up. This is the price when leaving West Denver (Lakewood). Leaving from Aurora will cost you $5 more. Buses pick up passengers in the Denver area an amazing twenty times a day.
Another bus option, Ace Express, runs daily routes to Black Hawk from Arvada and Thorton (these are west and north Denver suburbs). The Arvada location has 22 daily departures!
Prices for Ace Express are $20 when bought on your mobile phone.
Arapahoe Park Horse Racetrack in Denver
Denver degenerates who don’t want to make the drive to Black Hawk can get their gamble on (in the summer months at least), at the Arapahoe Park Racetrack in Aurora – a suburb east of Denver.
The track offers live racing in the summer. In addition to Arapahoe Park, there are five off-track betting parlors in the Denver/Metro area that enable you to bet on the ponies or dogs are various other racetracks across the country.
In November 2014, there was statewide petition on the ballot in which voters were allowed to decide whether or not casino gambling would be allowed at Arapahoe Park and proposed horse racetracks in Pueblo and Mesa County. The measure would have allowed the racetracks to operate 65 gaming tables (like blackjack, etc.), and 2,500 slot machines.
Colorado voters, however, overwhelmingly voted down the measure, with 70% of residents opposed, thereby ensuring there will be no Denver casinos for the foreseeable future.
Denver Greyhound Racetracks
Denver used to have a bustling greyhound racing track business at Mile High Greyhound Park in Commerce City (a rough, mostly industrial area north of Denver proper). However there hasn’t been any live greyhound races in Denver since 2008.
In 2014, legislation was passed and signed that banned greyhound racing in the state of Colorado. Still, you can bet on the dogs at one of the eleven licensed off-track betting (OTB) parlors across the state (five of which are in Denver), that simulcast greyhound races taking place in other states.
(Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr).