Casinos in Black Hawk, Colorado

By Steve Beauregard

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 16 licensed casinos.

There are 16 Casinos in Black Hawk

There are 16 Casinos in Black Hawk

Unlike Atlantic City, which has seen casinos shutter their doors, and even Las Vegas, which has seen casinos focus more on restaurants and entertainment rather than gambling, Black Hawk’s casinos are expanding, and 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 16 casinos combine to bring in big money. According to the Colorado Gaming Commission, Black Hawk casinos generated nearly .6 billion dollars in gaming revenue in 2015, ($595,792,993 to be exact). This marked a 6% increase from 2014.

While Colorado has legalized gaming in two other towns, (Central City and 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 75% of all of the state’s gaming revenue.

As of July 1st, 2016, there were a total of 7,855 slot machines, video poker machines, and other electronic games in Black Hawk casinos, along with 211 table games. Of these 211 table games, there are 95 blackjack tables, 16 craps tables, 14 roulette wheels, and 86 poker tables in town. I believe, however the gaming commission counts the 3-card poker and other carnival games as “poker tables.” In other words, there aren’t necessary 86 poker room tables operating.

List of Casinos in Black Hawk, CO.

Here’s a list of 16 casinos in the town of Black Hawk:

AmeristarThe Ameristar is one of 16 Casinos in Black Hawk, CO.

111 Richman Street, PO Box 45
Black Hawk, CO 80422
(720) 946-4000

The most “Vegasy” casino in Black Hawk, the Ameristar has 1,250 slots, 40 table games, and a 22 table poker room.

The 536 soaring hotel has suites, a spa, and rooftop pool. Downstairs you’ll find Ameristar’s popular Centennial Buffet and a few restaurants and bars.

Bull DurhamBull Durham Casino in Black Hawk

110 Main Street
P O Box 389
Black Hawk, CO 80427
(303) 582-0810

One of 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.

The independently owned Bull Durham casino only offers electronic games, but give out free hot dogs and “sweet treats” to their player’s card members who are actively playing.

Canyon CasinoCanyon Casino in Black Hawk

131 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO 80422
(303) 777-1111

The brick Canyon Casino in the middle of town has 400 slot machines, 5 table games, and is home to the Canyon Grille.

The GilpinGilpin Casino

111 Main Street
PO Box 50
Black Hawk, CO 80422
(303) 582-1133

Another two story brick casino in the heart of town, the Gilpin has slots, a few table games (with low minimums), and Lucille Malone’s restaurant, which is known for the low priced steak and lobster type of deals you used to see in Las Vegas all of the time.

Golden GatesGolden Gates in Black Hawk

261 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
(303) 582-5600

Golden Gates has slots of course, and video poker machines, along with a craps table and a few tables games, however its known for its impressive poker room. The poker room holds tournaments, offers games other than just Texas Hold’em, and hosts a stop on the Heartland Poker Tour.

Golden GulchGolden Gulch Casino in Black Hawk

Located in an old separate building steps away from its sister properties, Mardi Gras and Golden Gates, the Golden Gulch only has coin in slot machines and video poker machines. Perfect if you’re like me and miss the sound of coins hitting the metal tray on the bottom.

321 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
(303) 582-5600

Isle Casino and HotelIsle Casino in Black Hawk

401 Main Street,
Black Hawk, CO, 80422
Phone 1-800-THE-ISLE

The island-themed casino and hotel has 1,100 electronic games and 24 table games, including roulette and craps, and blackjack of course. There is a very nice poker room that offers plenty of promotions, including free lodging (during weekdays) with enough hours earned.

In addition to their popular buffet, the Isle has a steakhouse. It’s also connected via a pedestrian bridge to its sister casino across the street, the Lady Luck.

The Lady Luck Casino and Hotel in Black Hawk, Colorado

The Lady Luck Casino and Hotel in Black Hawk, Colorado

Lady Luck

340 Main Street,
Black Hawk, CO, 80422

For being on of the new-from-the-ground casinos, the Lady Luck is a no-thrills, low rollers casino, with $2 craps and blackjack during weekdays. The casino has 500 slots and video poker machines, and several table games. The upstairs poker room is probably my favorite in town. It’s small, but offers low limits, good comps, and lower-priced tournaments.

The LodgeLodge Casino in Black Hawk

240 Main Street
PO Box 50
Black Hawk, CO 80422
(303) 582-1771

The Lodge has slots and video poker tables on both of the main levels, as well as craps, blackjack, roulette, and some carnival-type games. There is also a six-table poker room.

The hotel has 50 rooms. There’s also a nice restaurant and buffet.

Mardi GrasMardi Gras Casino in Black Hawk

300 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
(303) 582-5600

Owned by the same group that owns Golden Gulch and Golden Gates, the Mardi Gras Casino is by far the largest of the group, with 750 slots and video poker machines, table games, a buffet, restaurant, and even a Dunkin Donuts.

Mardi Gras is connected to Golden Gates via an overhead pedestrian bridge.

Monarch Casino in Black HawkMonarch

88 Main Street
Black Hawk, Colorado 80422
(303) 582-1000

Formerly the Riviera, the Monarch has remodeled and expanded its spacious two story casino. The company has announced plans to soon add a tall hotel tower and parking garage in what they say is close to a $300 million dollar project.

Red Dolly CasinoRed Dolly Casino

The Red Dolly is a very small casino located on the road between Black Hawk and Central City.

It has the rare heated smoking area, for you smokers out there, and is known for it’s cheap prime rib special: $5.99.

530 Gregory Street
Black Hawk, Colorado 80422
(303) 582-1100

SaratogaSaratoga Casino in Black Hawk, CO

101 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO 80422
(303) 582-6100

Formerly Fitzgeralds, The Saratoga Casino has almost 500 slot machines/video poker machines, and various table games. They are known to have $2 limits on craps, and blackjack and offer 20x odds on craps.

Harry Stands Tall Inside Black Hawk's Sasquatch Casino

Harry Stands Tall Inside Black Hawk’s Sasquatch Casino

Sasquatch Casino

125 Gregory St.
Black Hawk, CO, 80422
(720) 880-1616

This charming two story casino with the Sasquatch theme is locally owned, and has two floors of gaming space.

Located directly across from the Saratoga Casino, the Sasquatch Casino has, hands down, the best dinning value in Black Hawk. If you redeem just 5 points on your player’s card, Harry’s Grill on the first level will give you a meal for just 99 cents.

These include breakfast burritos, pancakes, breakfast croissants, lunch sandwiches and more.

Fitting of its name, this fun and quirky joint has an enormous sasquatch in the center of it, where you can rub Sasquatch’s butt for good luck.

In 2016, the Sasquatch Casino merged with the Black Hawk Station Casino next door to form a longer, stretched out casino. Previously the Sasquatch had just 145 machines.

The Wild Card Saloon in Black HawkWild Card Saloon

120 Main Street
Black Hawk, CO. 80442
(303) 582-3412

The Wild Card is the oldest casino in Black Hawk. It opened back in 1991, right when gambling became legal in the town. This small, slot machines-only joint looks like something straight out of the old west.

This three story building has a little store and deli in the back, and just slot machines.

The Z Casino in Black HawkZ Casino

101 Gregory St.
Black Hawk, CO. 80422
(303) 271-2500

Formerly known as Bullwhackers, the Z Casino is a two story brick casino that has been remodeled inside to look similar to the casinos you’d find in Las Vegas. They have the Mustang Grill, lots of slots, and table games like craps and blackjack, (but only for limited hours).

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 the only one that even remotely resembles 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 Isle, which is spacious, clean, and brings folks in by way of a wonderful all-you-can-eat crab buffet. The Isle of Capri Blackhawk’s poker room is heavy on the promotions, and they even pay new players’ card members $10 an hour to play poker! (Up to 5 hours max).

The next largest casino in town is The Lodge, followed by the Monarch, 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.

Sasquatch Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado

The giant sasquatch at the Sasquatch Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado

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.

Black Hawk Gaming Revenue

Prior to 2015, the best year in Black Hawk’s gaming history was in 2007, when the town’s casinos brought in $580 million.

However as mentioned above, casinos in Black Hawk generated $595,792,993 in gaming revenue in 2015. This marks a new all-time record and up 6% from 2014.

2015: $595,792,993
2014: $560,598,893
2013: $553,082,797
2012: $558,542,208
2011: $550,883,660
2010: $559,445,467

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.

So now the limits are $100, and these apply to all games, such as blackjack, craps, slot machines, roulette, and poker cash games. There are, however, still poker tournaments in which the entry fee far exceeds $100.

Overall, Black Hawk, Colorado is a fun little gaming town that’s a nice diversion when you’re in or around the Denver area.

(Photos courtesy of the respective casinos, except for the Ameristar, which comes courtesy of Jeffrey Beall via Flickr)