Gamblers stood in line at dawn for an opportunity to test Lady Luck as limited stakes gambling began Tuesday in the historic mining towns of Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek.
More than 1,000 people stood in line awaiting the 8 a.m. opening of four Central City casinos, offering slot machines, blackjack and poker. Two casinos were opened in Black Hawk and five others opened in Cripple Creek."I was here at 6 a.m. and I'm not leaving this spot," said Janice Pfifer of Denver, a grandmother, who remained seated in front of a video poker machine that had an "out of order" sign taped on the front and a piece of tape across the coin slot at Annie Oakley's Casino. Other gamblers waited for their turns at the slots.
Crews worked into the early-morning hours to get the new casinos in shape for the openings. Gambling operations will continue daily until 2 a.m., with a maximum bet of $5.
The state gets a percentage of the gross proceeds, which will be used to fund historic preservation at the three former mining camps. About $170,000 in license fees and taxes on slots and card tables have been collected so far by the state.
One study estimates that revenues from gambling could top $36 million next year in Central City alone.
Cripple Creek Mayor Henry Hack cut a ribbon stretched across Bennett Avenue to kick off renewed gambling in the town, which had flourishing casinos 100 years ago. Replicas of Wild Bill Hickock's pistols, which were fired to to signal the beginning of gambling in Deadwood, S.D., two years ago, were shot down Bennett Avenue to signal casinos to open their doors.
In Black Hawk, city officials pulled the handles on antique slot machines to mark the start of gambling.
Fred Kaufman, the owner of Molly's in Central City, which was not ready for opening Tuesday, estimated he will lose about $7,000 each day his casino remains closed. He predicted Molly's would be in operation Friday.