The least populous city in Colorado is the most exciting.
According to the United States Census, Black Hawk, Colorado has just 118 residents, but millions of non-residents annually flock to this historic old mining town in an attempt to strike it rich, not in the dirty mines, but rather, in the somewhat clean casinos.
At an elevation of 8,042 square feet, the central Colorado mountain town of Black Hawk is a thriving casino market with 15 licensed casinos. On busy weekends, the town bursts with up to 20,000 visitors!
These are all fun, low-limit places and all within walking distance from each other. There are no state-mandated betting limits, and alcohol is served to players.
On these casino floors, you’ll find everything from penny slots to video poker to roulette, blackjack, and live dice craps. There’s even now legal sportsbetting in Colorado, with many Black Hawk casinos now boasting sportsbooks. And in a change from recent years, many of the casinos are open 24 hours a day.
Casinos here in this small mountain town are also constantly expanding, and are busier than ever, with gaming revenue increasing yearly at a healthy clip.
Casinos in Black Hawk range from tiny, little joints with character, to Las Vegas-style, newly-built resorts, complete with towering hotels.
Yet while Black Hawk may be relatively small, the town’s 15 casinos combine to bring in big money. According to the Colorado Gaming Commission, Black Hawk casinos generate over 1/2 of a billion dollars in gaming revenue per year.
While Colorado has legalized gaming in two other towns, (there are six casinos in Central City and 12 casinos in Cripple Creek), along with two smaller remote Indian casinos in southern part of the state, Black Hawk is clearly the gaming capital of Colorado, with the town accounting for just over 72% of all of the state’s gaming revenue.
According to gaming figures from the state of Colorado, Black Hawk has 6,763 slot machines, video poker machines, and other electronic games, along with 184 table games.
Of these 184 table games, there are 80 blackjack tables, 14 craps tables, 16 roulette wheels, and 74 of what they call “poker tables” in town. However the gaming commission counts the 3-card poker and other carnival games as “poker tables.” In other words, there aren’t 73 Texas Hold’em poker room tables operating.
There are, however, several casinos with live Texas Hold’em games running.
Black Hawk Casinos List
Here’s a list of 15 casinos in the town of Black Hawk:
Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk
The most “Vegasy” casino in Black Hawk, The Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk has 1,250 slots, 40 table games, and an 11 table poker room. Limits range from $10 to a $10,000 maximum bet!
On the second level, you’ll find the new Barstool Sportsbook at Ameristar. In addition to the 24 foot video wall, it boasts 29 HDTVs, and 13 betting kiosks.
Set up on the hill overlooking the town (but still within easy walking distance), The Ameristar has 536 hotel room, a spa, and rooftop pool. My wife and I enjoy our stays here, just know the lack of lodging in Black Hawk usually means higher prices that you may be used to paying for casino hotel rooms.
While Ameristar’s popular Centennial Buffet has transformed into the Centennial Market fast-casual area, there still are two other restaurants: the Timberline Grill steakhouse, and Fireside Kitchen.
The casino’s centerpiece bar, (called “Bar 8042” after the towns elevation above sea level), often has live music. There’s even a Barstool Sportsbook betting kiosk here in case you get the itch to bet on the Broncos or Rockies.
11 Richman Street, Black Hawk, CO. 80422
Phone: (720) 946-4000
Bull Durham Saloon & Casino
In contrast to the massive, corporate, newer Las Vegas-style Ameristar, Bull Durham Casino is small, cozy, independently owned casino with character and a past.
As one the numerous Black Hawk/Central City casinos occupying one of the old buildings from the city’s mining days, Bull Durham’s building used to be a blacksmith shop. It’s also one of the longest running casinos in town, having originally opened in February of 1993.
The two story building is packed tightly with slot machines and video poker machines. There are 194 of these games, and zero table games. As a nice perk, Bull Durham gives out free hot dogs and “sweet treats” to their player’s card members who are actively playing.
Alternatively, you can also buy what they call, “The Best Hot Dog in Black Hawk” for just $1.50.
110 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80427
Phone: (303) 582-0810
Another two story brick casino in the heart of town, the Gilpin has 309 slots – several of which are progressive games. They no longer have table games, however they serve free drinks to players.
The Gilpin’s Lucille Malone’s restaurant is open from breakfast to dinner, serving mostly American fare (chicken pot pie, chicken fried steak and the like) at very affordable prices. They also have an all-day breakfast menu.
While the Gilpin Casino does not have a hotel, it’s sister property across the street, The Lodge Casino, does have lodging.
111 Main Street
PO Box 50
Black Hawk, CO 80422
Bally’s Black Hawk West
Attached to its sister resort, by way of a pedestrian bridge, Bally’s Black Hawk West is the Golden Gates Casino- a places mostly known among Black Hawk regulars for its impressive poker room.
The 17 table poker room is modern, nice and well-run, in my experience. They spread games other than just Texas Hold’em, and have three poker tournaments every day.
As a twice-a-year stop on the Heartland Poker Tour, they are known for having the biggest turnout and prize pool of all of the poker tournaments on the nationally televised HPT.
In addition to the spacious (by Black Hawk standards), poker room, you’ll find 172 slots here, along with five black jack tables and one craps and roulette table apiece.
As one of the smaller casinos, Bally’s Black Hawk West doesn’t have much in they way of dinning or entertainment, other than the Gold Bar for drinks, and the Full House Cafe for a modest selection of fast-casual menu items.
300 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
Bally’s Black Hawk East
Located in an old separate building steps away from its sister properties, the casino formerly known as “Golden Gulch” is a smaller, slots-only joint. However those slots are all coin-in slot machines and video poker machines. These are perfect if you’re like me and miss the sound of coins hitting the metal tray on the bottom.
There is not a restaurant here, however there is the Golden Gulch Bar for drinks.
321 Main Street Black Hawk, CO. 80422
Phone: (303) 582-5600
Isle Casino and Hotel
There aren’t a lot of hotel rooms in Black Hawk, however this island-themed casino and hotel has 240 rooms. All were renovated in 2019 as part of a $35 million hotel/casino refresh.
Downstairs on the casino floor are 909 electronic games and 38 table games, including 3 roulette wheels and 3 craps tables.
There’s blackjack of course (double deck) along with a BJ variant called Buffalo Blackjack. Other table games include a Three Card Poker progressive game, Mississippi Stud, and High Card Flush. There is also baccarat.
There is a very nice ten table poker room that offers plenty of promotions.
In addition to their popular Farmer’s Pick Buffet, the Isle boasts Roxy’s Restaurant & Bar, a bakery, Starbucks, and the fast-casual Dash Cafe.
The Isle Casino Hotel Black Hawk is connected via an enclosed pedestrian sky bridge to its sister casino across the street, the Lady Luck.
401 Main Street, Black Hawk, CO. 80422
The Lady Luck was one of the first new-from-the-ground casinos in Black Hawk. Now run by Caesars Entertainment, the Lady Luck is a connected to its sister property, The Isle Casino Black Hawk, via a climate controlled pedestrian skyway. You can use your Caesars Rewards here (and at the Isle).
The casino has 415 slots and video poker machines, and eleven table games. These include regular blackjack, Buffalo Blackjack, craps and roulette. Sadly the fun poker room here is no more.
A live sportsbook is planned, however as of this update, the Caesars Sportsbook consists of just a few betting kiosks.
Upstairs, the O’Sheas is the casino within a casino, with table games, a bar and slots in this Irish-themed second level.
Lastly, the Lady Luck has one restaurant. The TaCo Cantina is the only Mexican restaurant in Black Hawk. t
340 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
The Lodge Casino
Located right in the heart of Black Hack, the Lodge has gaming on two levels, and is one of only a handful of Black Hawk casinos to have a hotel attached. It has fifty contemporary rooms. Everyone staying in the room must be 21 years or older.
At 989 slot machines, The Lodge is the second biggest casino in Black Hawk.
You’ll find slots and video poker machines on both of the casino levels, including popular ones like Pink Panther, Wild Panda, Pompeii, Blazing Inferno games and the like.
They even have a Fortune Cup Derby. For those unfamiliar, it’s the little horse racing game in which you pick a horse and watch the little figures run around the track. It’s fun and addicting.
Table Games at the Lodge Casino
Table games include craps, blackjack, roulette, mini baccarat and midi baccarat, and some carnival-type games. Progressive jackpots on side bets on the following games: Texas Hold’em Bonus, Pai Gow Major, Pai Gow Minor, and Three Card Poker.
The craps game offers 5x odds. There is no longer a poker room here.
At 7,000 square feet in size, The Lodge Casino’s SuperBook is one of the bigger sports books in Black Hawk. There are 28 TVs and a capacity of 200 gamblers, with three live betting windows and self-serve betting kiosks as well.
Restaurants include the popular Season’s Buffet, the White Buffalo Grille, Jakes (fast casual), and a Cinnabon. There is parking here, but not of the self-parking variety. Rather, it’s all valet parking.
240 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO 80422
Phone: (303) 582-1771
Bally’s Black Hawk
A 2021 re-branding changed the casino formerly known as the Mardi Gras casino into the new Bally’s Black Hawk.
Owned by the same group that owns Golden Gulch and Golden Gates, Bally’s Black Hawk Casino is by far the largest of the group, with 650 slots and video poker machines. The Golden Jackpot Room is the high limit area, with $25 slots.
Bally’s spreads 39 table games, with all of the favorites like blackjack, roulette and craps.
A fairly new addition is the Draft Kings Sports Book, which boasts a contemporary bar, (with food service), 32 different 55 inch TVs, 11 different 65 inch Tvs, 8 self-serve betting kiosks for sports, along with two kiosks for off-track horse race betting.
And while there is not a poker room here, there is one across the enclosed pedestrian skyway over at the Bally’s Black Hawk West.
Dining options, include the Casino Cafe & Grill (with an all-day breakfast), and the Creekside Deli. There’s also food service at the DraftKings Sportsbook.
300 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
Phone: (303) 582-5600
Website: Bally’s Black Hawk
Monarch Casino Resort & Spa
Formerly the Riviera, the Monarch has remodeled and expanded its spacious two story casino.
Opened in the fall of 2020, the Monarch boasts a new 23 story hotel tower (with over 500 rooms), and parking garage with room for 1,500 vehicles.
The $400 million dollar project doubled the casino size to 60,000 square feet, while adding a beautiful looking spa, pool, and more restaurants.
You’ll now find 1,250 slot machines here, along with 40 table games, including blackjack, roulette, Three Card Poker, and Pai Gow Poker. There’s even live keno!
The craps games offer the sharpshooter side bet. A new poker room is open 24 hours a day, with a self-service beverage station and 12 large TVs to keep you occupied in-between folding. The Monarch poker room offers both hind-hand and bad beat promotions. A full service sportsbook is coming soon.
Dining options include The Monarch Chophouse steakhouse, Twenty Four 7, and the Buffet at the Monarch Casino. You’ll also find three different bars here, including the Cabaret Stage Bar, which offers live music on weekends.
88 Main Street
Black Hawk, Colorado 80422
Phone: (303) 582-1000
Red Dolly Casino
The oldest casino in Black Hawk, the Red Dolly is a very small casino located on the road between Black Hawk and Central City. There are 131 different slot machines/video poker machines here. They don’t offer table games and bill themselves as “The Cheers of Casinos,” where everybody knows your name.
It has the rare heated smoking area, for you smokers out there, and the Red Dolly restaurant is known for it’s very affordable meals, including a cheap prime rib special that remains at $6.99 as of the time of this writing.
The casino opens up at 8 AM daily.
530 Gregory Street
Black Hawk, Colorado 80422
Phone: (303) 582-1100
Saratoga Casino Black Hawk
Formerly Fitzgeralds, The Saratoga Casino has 437 slot machines/video poker machines, including video keno games. Limits run from a penny a pull to $25.
As for table games, the pit isn’t open on slower weekdays. However other days they open at noon, where games include roulette, craps (with the sharpshooter side bet), blackjack, several different blackjack variants (including Streak), and a few carnival games like Three Card Poker.
Table limits here are $10, however those can be raised when it gets busy.
There’s even live Keno, while the 1,400 square foot BetFred Sportsbook was the first sportsbook in Black Hawk.
Dining options here are limited to just the Main Street Cafe, as it looks like their steakhouse, (the Mill City Chophouse) has closed. The Main Floor Bar serves free beer to active players.
101 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO 80422
Phone: (303) 582-6100
This charming two story casino with the Sasquatch theme is locally owned, and has two floors of gaming space. Totaling over 6,000 square feet of gaming floor space, the casino has 145 slot machines and video poker machines. There aren’t any table games.
Located directly across from the Saratoga Casino, the Sasquatch Casino has, some of the best cheap dinning values in Black Hawk. The Sasquatch Grill serves $2.99 breakfast burritos and croissant sandwiches in the morning, and a $7.25 prime rib steak dinner later. However earning 40 points on your player’s card will score you a free meal.
There’s also a video arcade area for the kids here, with 15 different games.
Fitting of its name, this fun and quirky joint has an enormous 7 foot, 4 inch sasquatch named “Harry” who watches over all the action in center of the casino. You can even rub Sasquatch’s butt for good luck.
The Sasquatch Casino is open from 8 AM to 2 AM, seven days a week.
125 Gregory St.
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
Phone: (720) 880-1616
Wild Card Saloon
The Wild Card Saloon & Casino sits next to the Bull Durham, and like its neighbor, is a small, slots-only, (250 in total), family-owned joint that looks like something straight out of the old west. It claims to be the oldest casino in Black Hawk, as does the Red Dolly Casino.
This three story building has a bar, a little store and deli in the back, and just slot machines. A small meal selection of the day is available at the casino’s third-floor balcony. Earning 40 points on the Wild Card’s player’s club card will get you a free meal.
The casino opens at 8 AM every day, closing at 2 AM on most weekdays, and at 4 AM Thursday – Sunday.
120 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80442
Phone: (303) 582-3412
Formerly known as Bullwhackers, the Z Casino is a three level brick casino that has been remodeled inside to look similar to the casinos you’d find in Las Vegas.
You’ll find just over 400 slots/video machines here, along with video blackjack and roulette machines, and bubble craps.
There is also a small selection of table games (live roulette, blackjack and Three card poker). The table games are only open on weekends and holidays.
Dining options are the Mustang Grill, with a popular cheap prime rib special. The fast casual Z Cafe, has sandwiches, pizza, ice cream and Starbucks.
101 Gregory Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
Phone: (303) 271-2500
Black Hawk Casinos That Have Closed
The brick Canyon Casino in the middle of town had 400 slot machines, 5 table games, and was home to the Canyon Grille.
It closed in late April 2017.
Black Hawk Station Casino
Formerly a separate casino, Black Hawk Station is not really closed, as this casino that was attached to the Sasquatch, merged with the Sasquatch Casino in 2016.
What is the biggest casino in Blackhawk?
It’s the Ameristar, (formerly known as the Mountain High Casino), which has 1,250 slot machines, and 40 table games, including 19 black jack tables, 3 craps tables, and 3 roulette wheels. Plus there are 22 tables in the Ameristar’s poker room. Overall, this casino/hotel is one of two (the other being the new Monarch), as two casinos that somewhat resemble a traditional, Vegas-style casino.
The Ameristar has a large circle bar with fireplaces, several restaurants, (including an always busy buffet), and a newer and pricey 536 room hotel. The Ameristar has live entertainment and a spa.
The second largest casino, (in terms of the number of slot machines) is the Monarch, followed by the Isle, which is spacious, clean, and brings folks in by way of a wonderful all-you-can-eat crab buffet.
The next largest casino in town is The Lodge, followed by the Mardi Gras, and Lady Luck.
If the prices at the Ameristar (often pushing the $300 a night range on weekends), scares you away, try staying at either the Isle or the Lady Luck. These two casinos are joined by a skybridge, and are owned jointly.
Talking a nice walk up and down Black Hawk, you’ll see some of these great food deals that you used to find in Las Vegas. Also, by walking up and down the streets of Black Hawk, you’ll be able to take him some of the history, from this former bustling mining town, as informational signs describing the town’s glory days are planted throughout the town.
Lastly, those of you who tire of the walk, can take a free shuttle that runs twice every 15 minutes, up and down Black Hawk. There’s also a shuttle that takes visitors up the hill a bit (only a mile, but it’s a long one uphill) to Central City.
History of Legalized Gambling in Black Hawk
In November of 1990, Coloradoans approved a ballot measure that legalized limited, small stakes gambling in the small mountain towns of Black Hawk and Central City (which are basically next to each other – about a mile apart), and Cripple Creek, Colorado, which is in the hills above Colorado Springs near Pike’s Peak.
(Go here to get the Distance and driving instructions from Denver to Black Hawk).
On October 1, 1990, Colorado’s first legalized casinos opened with limited stakes, meaning the maximum bet was $5. Casinos were only allowed to operate slot machines, video poker machines, live poker games (again with a $5 maximum bet or raise), and various other card games, such as blackjack, three-card poker, etc. There were no roulette or craps games.
For some reason however, the Colorado gaming commission allowed poker tournament buy-ins that exceeded the $5 maximum. There were several poker tournaments, including a stop of the popular Heartland Poker Tour, in which the entry fee ran into the hundreds, or even the thousand dollar plus range.
Another quirk that many visitors to Las Vegas noticed when visiting Black Hawk was that the casinos actually closed! Colorado law stated that casinos had to be closed from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. I know, it’s hard to picture being at say, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and having the loudspeaker announce that Caesars was closing and that everyone needed to leave.
One fun feature of the “casinos close at 2 a.m.” rule was strange nightly ritual at the poker table. Because the last hand of the night was usually dealt at 1:45 a.m., everyone who still wanted their poker fix (along with those who were down for the night hoping to catch up), would play the final hand – almost regardless of their cards. This, as you might imagine, led to some enormous pots in Blackhawk poker rooms.
In November of 2008, Coloradoans, by a 58% to 41% margin, approved an statewide ballot initiative called Amendment 50. While not raising the betting minimums to $100 max, it allowed the towns of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek to decide if they wanted to both raise the limits, and introduce other casino games. All three towns doing so was just a formality and Coloradoans were allowed to bet up to a c-note beginning on a busy day on July 1, 2009.
With the new law, the casinos were also allowed to stay open 24 hours a day. One hold over from the old “casinos close at 2 a.m. days” is the fact that Colorado state law still prohibits the serving of alcohol after 2 a.m.
In 2021, a voter-passed amendment removed the $100 limits, allowing each casino to set its own limits, without any state-imposed maximum.
There are now thirty-three casinos in Colorado.
Overall, Black Hawk, Colorado is a fun little gaming town that’s a nice diversion when you’re in or around the Denver area.
(By Steve Beauregard. Photos courtesy of the respective casinos, except for the Ameristar, which comes courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr)