Colorado’s struggling casino industry to get boost from sports betting, fee waivers during shut down


BLACK HAWK, Colo. (KDVR) — The small town famous for having more than a dozen casinos is waiving $1.4 million in device fees to help casinos through the shutdown.

Each casino pays the City a flat fee per slot machine and gaming table they operate. Those fees add up to $700,000 per month for Black Hawk.

The city has waived device fees in March and April, saving its casinos $1.4 million.

“It’s very helpful and the City of Black Hawk has always been very supportive of the industry,” Monarch Casino and Resort Chief Operating Officer David Farahi told FOX31.

He says right now, Monarch’s income is zero. They have had to furlough almost their entire staff.

When asked if it’s tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel, he said, “I haven’t even been able to stick my head up to look at the end of the tunnel right now. We’ve got our heads down just trying to batten down the hatches as much as possible, so I don’t know if I’m in a tunnel yet.”

Farahi is also the president of the Colorado Gaming Association, which represents Colorado’s casino industry.

“Every casino in America is closed right now and it’s a very trying time,” he said.

According to Farahi, Colorado’s casino industry generates $700 million in revenue per year. That means statewide, casinos have lost out on about $81 million since they were shut down on March 16 due to COVID-19.

“Our industry being shut down not only greatly affects the 10,000 employees that are directly employed by the industry but it has ripple effects across all the beneficiaries of gaming tax dollars,” Farahi said.

That money helps fund things like Colorado’s tourism department, History Colorado and community colleges.

Colorado’s casinos will collectively lose $13.5 million each week they remain closed.

That could change on Friday. May 1, sports betting becomes legal in Colorado and several casinos with licenses for sports books will begin taking bets online through apps. Although, the revenue is expected to be a fraction of what they planned for.

“There isn’t a whole lot to bet on these days. We will have some things for people to bet on. They’ll be able to bet on what are called futures, so you could place a bet on whether the Broncos are going to win the next Super Bowl or not,” Farahi said.

Right now though, the future of anything is a major gamble.

“We don’t have a lot of information as to when the state’s going to allow us to reopen but we are preparing for that day now,” Farahi said.

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