There are plenty of gambling options in the Centennial State, as Colorado is home to 33 casinos. In fact, there are over 10,000 slot machines in Colorado.
These 33 casinos are located in three different areas of the state: Black Hawk/Central City (by Denver), Cripple Creek (by Colorado Springs), and Southwest Colorado (by Cortez and Durango).
Gambling joints here range from tiny old converted Victorian-era mining buildings with just a few slots, to modern, spacious hotel casinos offering just about everything you’d find at a Las Vegas Strip resort. They are open 24 hours a day.
The main difference between Vegas casinos and those in Colorado, are entertainment options. If you’re going to a Colorado casino, you’re going there to gamble. Sure, there are a few lounge acts, however you won’t find big-name entertainers, magicians, comedians or Cirque-type shows in these casinos towns. You will, however, find plenty of dining options, from fast-food to delicious buffets to upscale steakhouses.
Slot Machines & Table Games in Colorado
Casinos in Colorado are allowed to offer everything from traditional penny slot machines, to video poker, to popular table games like blackjack, craps, baccarat, roulette, Pai Gow Poker, and live Texas Hold’em. Besides the live versions of these casinos, many casinos (particularly larger ones), have electronic versions of blackjack and roulette, along with bubble craps games.
There are now even physical sportsbooks in Colorado.
And other than what’s found at the two Native American casinos in the far southwest corner of the state (which will cover below), these games are regular, traditional casino games, with normal, Vegas-style rules.
Similarly, the slots and video poker machines are your typical random-number generated games and not the VLT (video lottery terminals), bingo-style electronic gaming machines found in many states – particularly at Indian casinos.
Up until recently, the one main quirk with Colorado casinos was that the table maximum limits were $100. However that changed in 2021, after voters passed an initiative waiving limits. Casinos are now free to have $1,000 max bets (or even higher). Incredibly, up until 2009, the maximum limits for both slots and table games was just $5. Yes, five dollars maximum.
Map of Casinos in Colorado
Below are the only three areas of the state in which you’ll find legal casino gambling.
The red star is the Black Hawk/Central City casinos, while the brown star is Cripple Creek. The purple star represents the two Indian casinos near the four corners region.
Colorado Casino Locations
As you can see from the map, most of the state’s casinos are situated near populous Front Range cities of Denver/Boulder and Colorado Springs.
Of the three areas in Colorado with casinos, Black Hawk/Central City is by far the most popular, which makes sense, given that it’s just a 50 minute drive from Denver to Black Hawk & Central City.
The two historic mining towns in the mountains just west of Denver border each other and combine to account for 21 of the state’s 33 casinos. Eighty-two percent of the state’s reported gambling revenue comes from this area. (The two Indian casinos do not report gaming revenue)
Black Hawk & Central City
When casinos first opened in the state in the fall of 1991, Black Hawk started off as the smaller little sister to its bigger Central City sibling up the road.
Now however, Black Hawk is the Las Vegas of Colorado.
Its 21 casinos dominate gambling in the Centennial State, with the town capturing 72% of the state’s gaming revenue.
These are all within walking distance of each other. And while you won’t find the type of shows and entertainment you’d find on the Strip, there are plenty of slots, table games, bars and restaurants for you to enjoy.
Casinos in Black Hawk range from quirky little Mom and Pop casinos like the Sasquatch Casino, to big Vegas-style hotel/casinos like the Ameristar.
Other than the Ameristar, the other big casinos here include the Isle of Capri, Lady Luck, The Lodge, the Monarch and the Mardi Gras. Most of these have hotels, and hundreds (if not thousands) of slot machines, along with all of the traditional table games.
Central City is just up the road from Black Hawk, (1 ½ miles away), and is a quaint, quieter town than its neighbor.
A former mining mecca, there are six casinos in Central City. Most of these are old stores converted into casinos located on the charming historic Main Street.
While not as high-energy as Black Hawk, Central City casinos offer a nice change of pace as well as scenic surroundings.
Another charming historic mining town turned into a gambling mecca, Cripple Creek sits near the base of Pikes Peak – about a 45 minute drive from Colorado Springs.
There are ten casinos in Cripple Creek.
As with Black Hawk/Central City, these are all within walking distance, so you can try your luck at a new place if things aren’t going your way.
And as with Central City, almost all of these are converted Victorian-era buildings on the city’s main street. Two others are more newer, with the newest one, the Wildwood Casino Hotel having opened its 101 room hotel in July of 2021.
Southwest Colorado Casinos
Two of Colorado’s 33 casinos are on tribal land in the four corners area, in the far southwest part of the state.
These two casinos near Durango & Cortez, Colorado are Native American casinos, named the Ute Mountain Casino (12 miles south of Cortez), and the Sky Ute Casino, (22 miles southeast of Durango), respectively.
While the Ute Mountain Casino wouldn’t be considered extravagant, the Sky Ute Casino is a contemporary 140 room resort complete with a pool, bowling alley, and entertainment venue that hosts previously-famous comedians, and bands.
Either way, both offer a variety of slots, video poker machines, table games, and bingo. Both also have hotels.
List of Colorado Casinos
Here’s a full list of all of Colorado’s 33 casinos by region:
- Ameristar Casino Resort Spa
- Bally’s Casino Black Hawk
- Bull Durham Casino
- Gilpin Casino
- Golden Gates
- Golden Gulch
- Isle Casino Hotel
- Lady Luck Casino
- The Lodge Casino
- Monarch Casino Resort Spa
- Red Dolly Casino
- Saratoga Casino
- Sasquatch Casino
- Wild Card Saloon
- Z Casino Black Hawk
- Century Casino
- Dostal Alley
- Easy Street Casino
- The Famous Bonanza Casino
- Grand Z Casino Hotel
- Johnny Z Casino Central City
- Bronco Billy’s Casino
- Brass Ass Casino
- Century Casino & Hotel Cripple Creek
- Christmas Casino at Bronco Billy’s
- Colorado Grande Hotel & Casino
- Double Eagle Hotel & Casino
- Johnny Nolan’s Casino
- McGills Hotel & Casino
- Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino
- Wildwood Casino
- Ute Mountain Casino Hotel (near Cortez)
- Sky Mountain Casino (near Durango)
Biggest Casino in Colorado
Unlike states like Nevada, the Colorado Gaming Division doesn’t break down casino square footage, so we have to use game count.
Based on slot machine figures from the Colorado Department of Revenue, the Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk is the largest casino in Colorado, with 1,302 slot machines. The Lodge and Monarch in Black Hawk are second and third respectively, each with over 900 machines.
Smallest Casino in Colorado
Using those same figures, the smallest casino in Colorado is the fun and quaint Dostal Alley Saloon in Central City, with just 63 slot machines. The Golden Gulch in Black Hawk is the second smallest with 64 slot machines.
Best Casino in Colorado
For a lot of us, the best casino is the one you win at!
And truth is, this will be a matter of taste. If you’re a small-stakes slots player, you may be most comfortable in one of the charming old Victorian-era casinos in the heart of Central City or Cripple Creek.
The aforementioned Dostal Alley in Central City for example, is a cozy, family-owned brew pub with around 63 slot machines and zero table games. Yet it’s a laid back and fun place to hang out while soaking up its historic vibe.
For others who relish the high-volume, high-energy pulse of a more Vegas-style casino, and the corresponding number and variety of games, a bigger, more contemporary casino such as the Isle of Capri, or newer Monarch Resort Casino Spa may be your favorite.
In the Cripple Creek area, readers of the Colorado Springs Gazette consistently vote Bronco Billy’s as the best casino in town.
Q. How old do you have to be to gamble in Colorado?
A. You must be 21 years or older to play at any Colorado casino (including Indian casinos). And in my experience, they are very strict about enforcement. (My then 32 year-old wife forgot her I.D. at home and wasn’t allowed in the casino). However those 18 years or older can play bingo at the two Native American casinos in Southwest Colorado.
Q. Can you smoke in casinos in Colorado?
A. No. Smoking in bars and restaurants and casinos is outlawed in Colorado. Many casinos offer outdoor (and heated) smoking patios.
More About Casino Gambling in Colorado
- Casinos are allowed to offer free drinks to gamblers. Drinks are served to players in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. I don’t believe they are served at the Indian casinos however.
- Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek had a combined $842 million in gaming revenue last year.
- Most recent records from the Colorado Division of Gaming reveal that there are 10,625 slot machine/video poker machines in Colorado.
- All total, there are 240 live table games in the state (not counting the two Indian casinos). These include 20 roulette tables, 74 poker tables, 103 blackjack games, 24 baccarat tables and 18 craps tables.
- While there is legal sportsbetting in Colorado, only casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek have physical sportsbook locations.
- In the first full year of legalized sports betting in Colorado, a total of $2.3 billion dollars was waged (in person and online combined).
- Prior to 2009, Colorado casinos closed at 2 AM, and had a maximum bet (slots and table games alike) of just $5. In November of 2008, voters passed Amendment 50, which allowed casinos to do the following: stay open 24 hours a day, increase betting limits to $100 maximum, and offer games like roulette and craps.
- In November of 2020, Colorado voters passed (by a 60% to 40% margin) Amendment 77. This measure basically allowed casinos to have unlimited bet sizes on both slots and table games. Previously the maximum wager was $100.
(Steve Beauregard is a Colorado native and current resident who has contributed significantly to the Black Hawk and Central City economies, unfortunately. Photos courtesy of Colorado.gov, Central Casinos, The Lodge, Gamboool.com, Ernie Geiger via Flickr, and Visitcripplecreek.com)