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, several casinos within an hour’s drive of Denver.
The Denver metropolitan area 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.
There aren’t any casinos in Denver, but this one is close
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 busses like the “Ramblin’ Express” make it pretty easy to get to these casinos from Denver, and have numerous hop on points throughout town.
Roundtrip tickets are in the low $20’s, depending on where you hop on, and stop to pick up passengers an amazing twenty times a day (once an hour, every hour until the wee hours of the morning).
Central City has six casinos, while there are 17 casinos in Blackhawk. 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.
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.
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 ten licensed off-track betting (OTB) parlors across the state that simulcast greyhound races taking place in other states. (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr).