Black Hawk, Colorado, Casino Market Closing In On $1B GGR

Estimated read time 3 min read

The list of the top commercial casino markets in terms of revenue in 2023 largely stayed the same, with Las Vegas again leading the way. But on a list that featured little movement of note, Black Hawk/Central City, Colorado, again stood out.

Penn Entertainment’s Ameristar in Black Hawk, Colorado. That city is one of the fastest-growing casino markets in the country. (Image: Visit Denver)

Located about 35 miles west of Denver, Black Hawk is a small town and Colorado’s largest casino market. As measured by gross gaming revenue (GGR), Black Hawk/Central City ranked 12th in the U.S. last year, as GGR jumped 3.1% year-over-year to $923.2 million.

In the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) recently released industrywide update, Black Hawk was the only market to rise at least two spots in GGR terms from 2022. Chicago, the Poconos, Pa., and Lake Charles, La. each noted one-spot jumps.

Using revenue increases as the barometer, the 3.1% surge notched by the Colorado casino town was surpassed only by Cleveland (5%) and Wynn Resorts Encore Boston Harbor (4.1%) among non-Las Vegas markets.

Black Hawk Becoming Force

Of the top 20 casino markets by GGR, only five are in the Western part of the U.S. — the Las Vegas Strip, the Boulder Strip — which includes Laughlin and Black Hawk/Central City, Colorado — Reno, and downtown Las Vegas.

A feather in the cap of Black Hawk/Central City is that in 2023, it posted greater GGR than Reno and downtown Las Vegas, while matching the 3.1% GGR increase notched by the latter.

Black Hawk’s casino market has some structural advantages. Those include Colorado’s fast-growing population and a policy that went into effect in 2021 that allows gaming operators to offer more table games with higher limits.

New and updated casino hotels targeting higher-end clientele, including Monarch Casino’s namesake, Black Hawk property, are supporting growth there. Based on recent growth trends, Black Hawk could join the $1 billion GGR club — one populated by just nine markets last year — over the next few years, and potentially enter the top markets in terms of GGR.

Other Important Tidbits from AGA Survey

Making Black Hawk’s ascent all the more remarkable is that none of its casino hotels currently rank among the top 20 non-Las Vegas venues in revenue terms. That list is entirely comprised of venues in the Eastern and Central time zones.

Resorts World New York in Queens reclaimed the top spot last year, pushing MGM National Harbor in Maryland to number two. They were followed by Encore Boston Harbor.

MGM’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers, along with Resorts World, is competing for a New York City casino license. It was sixth.

Three Atlantic City properties — MGM’s Borgata, Hard Rock, and the Ocean — made the list, helping the New Jersey jurisdiction rank second by GGR behind the Las Vegas Strip. Still, the Strip’s 2023 GGR was more than triple that of the nine casinos on the Boardwalk.

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