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Canceled events, casino closures hit Cripple Creek finances

Posted at 12:45 PM, Jul 29, 2020

CRIPPLE CREEK — Local governments all across the country are being hit hard by the pandemic. Between stay at home orders and other restrictions since March, it's resulted in a loss of revenue across the board.

For a casino town like Cripple Creek in Teller County, the three-month-long closure of its casinos is just one part of the equation when it comes to losing money.

"The town was virtually a ghost town while the casinos closed," Paul Harris, Finance Dir. for the City of Cripple Creek said, "so sales tax, lodging tax, all your ancillary type revenue sources also went down."

The largest revenue source for the city, gaming device fees, were waived during the casino closures. Something that cost the city $762,000.

"We didn't feel it was equitable to charge them when they weren't generating revenues," said Harris.

Casinos opened mid-June, and at the beginning of the city's third financial quarter in July, the number of gaming device fees in use had dropped 839 devices to 2,717. This is in part to some casinos removing devices to be compliant for social distancing requirements with Teller County's variance.

On top of the casino's closures- a handful of events Cripple Creek host in the summer months have also been canceled. The Salute to American Veterans motorcycle rally and Donkey Derby Days, two of the city's biggest events bring in thousands of people.

In April, the city cut $2.2 million from its 2020 budget to cope with its anticipated loss revenue. Since then, sports betting launched in Colorado in May, but the revenues created by sports betting- as noted in the ballot measure go towards water projects in the state.

"We're not seeing a direct benefit at this time from the benefit of gaming taxes," Harris said.

With people making their way to Cripple Creek as casinos begin to roll out sports books, it could show some benefit to the city.

To see the data from the city on the impact of gaming device fees and taxes, click here: Cripple Creek Finances.