Despite tough times for casinos, the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission will consider an application for a new license in Cripple Creek this Thursday.
Jim Druck and two unnamed partners intend to open Big Jim’s Gambling Hall and Saloon “soon,” Druck said.
Once the commission gives him the go ahead, Druck said he and his staff will work tirelessly to get open during the height of the summer season.
The new casino will open with 200 slot machines in the building previously occupied by the Gold Rush. Druck was a partner and general manager at the Gold Rush, which closed in October, and he and his partners together have more than 70 years worth of experience in the casino business, he said. But they will be opening Big Jim’s as a stand-alone operation not affiliated with any large chains of casinos.
Casinos in Colorado appealed to the gaming commission and asked for a 10 percent tax break to relieve their pocketbooks after three straight years of down revenue and losses. The commission found that the industry was hurting enough to warrant a 5 percent tax decrease (see related stories in this week’s Business Journal).
Community Colleges and historical preservation groups, the primary recipients of the gaming tax revenue, protested the tax reduction and Gov. John Hickenlooper is trying to get the commission to reconsider its decision.
Despite tough times, Druck is optimistic about opening up a new gambling hall right now.
“The economy has actually been stronger recently,” Druck said. “The gaming and entertainment markets, especially, have improved over the last eight to 10 months.”
Other than markets that were hit by natural disasters, like floods in Mississippi, gambling revenues were up in May, Druck said.
While all of that indicates times may be getting better for casino operators, none of it matter much to Druck.
“We’re looking at having this casino a long time,” Druck said. “And there are always going to be up and down cycles in the market. I don’t think this is a bad time to start.”
Druck said the number one difference his casino will bring to the market in Cripple Creek is – fun.
With plans to hire 65 new employees, Druck hopes offer superior service and bring happy, fun-loving and smiling employees to the casino floor, he said.
Druck’s casino isn’t the only new one opening in Colorado mountain gambling towns. The Fortune Valley Hotel & Casino in Central City is slated to open with a new look and the world’s largest guitar-shaped bar in a casino. The casino changed ownership in January and is expected to reopen with a new national music brand like Hard Rock or House of Blues.