Colorado casinos are following a state-issued order aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, with operators announcing a series of temporary closures that commenced Tuesday morning.
The Centennial State, which is home to more than 30 commercial and tribal gaming properties, joins a slew of others that are clamping down on large gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In many of the states issuing those orders, the mandates aren’t targeting casinos, and pertain to businesses such as bars, cinemas, and restaurants, among others.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued a public health order to close bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, and casinos to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, effective at 8:00 a.m. on March 17 for the duration of 30 days,” according to a statement from the department. “The public health order will help the state slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Colorado communities.”
Late Monday night, Penn National Gaming – a company that’s grappling with temporary closures in an array of states – got the ball rolling, saying “it will temporarily suspend operations at Ameristar Black Hawk Casino Hotel for a period of thirty days beginning at 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 as a precautionary measure against the ongoing spread of COVID-19.”
Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said the company plans to play wages and benefits for the Ameristar’s nearly 800 affected employees through the end of this month,
Rivals Following Suit
Full House Resorts, the operators of Bronco Billy’s Casino & Hotel in Cripple Creek, Colo., followed Penn National in announcing the closure of its Colorado venue.
“We know of no instances of COVID-19 at any of our resorts,” said Full House CEO Daniel Lee in a statement.
Full House is a small operator with just five casinos. But three of those are in states ordering temporary business suspensions – Colorado, Indiana, and Mississippi.
Century Casinos, another smaller gaming firm with two eponymous properties in Cripple Creek and Central City, Colo., said it will comply with the state closure directive while acknowledging a pinch to its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).
Century “estimates that without business interruptions, its Colorado operating segment would generate 9-11% of the Company’s 2020 net operating revenue and Adjusted EBITDA,” said the company.
Eldorado Resorts said the Isle of Capri and Lady Luck Black Hawk closed at 8 a.m. local time Tuesday.
Sports Betting Impact?
Sports wagering is scheduled to go live in Colorado on May 1, though there may be limited betting options if various associations and leagues continue delaying seasons and postponing events.
The coronavirus issue is relevant to the Centennial State’s sports betting plans because the concept is popular among operators there and the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (CLGCC) is still awash in applications to consider.
The CLGCC is scheduled to convene on Thursday, March 19 to review more sports betting license requests, and it’s not immediately clear if that meeting will proceed as expected or be postponed.