Mar 3, 2010 8:46 AM by John Romero

Worries loom as Imperial Casino closes doors

On Sunday the old Imperial Hotel and Casino that had been a Cripple Creek institution since the late 1800's closed its doors.  The news comes as a big disappointment to regulars Janet and Harold Steinbeck. "We're just really sad." says Janet. "It was one of my favorite casinos." adds Harold, "The employees were wonderful."

It's no secret the Imperial, small by Cripple Creek standards, had its share of financial problems.  But its closing is indicative of the market in the town.  Kevin Werner is general manager at the Wildwood Casino.  He says a blow to one casino is a blow to all.  "There are 40 or 50 people that are now out looking for a job in a tough market," he says.

Werner says even with the higher limits and new games Amendment 50 brought, the chips are stacked against the local casinos.  "None of us are doing the revenues we'd like to do and none of us are making the money we'd like to make right now," he explains.

A down economy makes every day a gamble. "Really what's going to make our business and every other business right is a good economy," Werner says.  He says he and the other casino managers will weather the storm and hope for an eventual payout.  "We've really struggled since the day we opened. But we keep on making progress and getting better," he says. "We do see light at the end of the tunnel."

As for Harold and Janet they'll keep coming to Cripple Creek just like they have for the last 20 or so years ... no matter what Harold's mom says!  "My mom was born here 114 years ago," says Harold with a smile and a laugh.  "If she saw this she'd roll over in her grave because she didn't like gambling, drinking or none of that stuff!"


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