TELLER COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- The lines to get inside the casinos in Cripple Creek began long before the doors reopened at 7 a.m. Monday.
Some gamblers said they waited in line for hours for a chance to try their luck for the first time since the coronavirus threat forced the closure of the casinos in mid-March.
At Bronco Billy's, the noise of music and slot machines once again filled the air, as a steady stream of customers returned.
However, the casinos are subject to the same social distancing guidelines that many other businesses are following.
Customers have their temperatures taken as they enter; masks are optional for them but mandatory for employees; blackjack and other table games remain closed; some restaurants have yet to reopen; plexiglass shields are installed in key areas; and slot machines have been spread out.
"Before we closed, we had 834 slot machines," said Baxter Lee, general manager of Bronco Billy's. "When we reopened this morning, we were only able to turn on 441. The games that are closer together than six feet, we've placed those games out of order so that nobody can play them."
Employees also are wiping surfaces and cleaning more often.
"We've spent around $25,000 on changing our cleaning supplies to meet federal health requirements," Lee said. "But we're committed to doing it. We want people to be safe and feel safe."
Gamblers say they like the changes and are glad to be back.
"We stayed home during the lockdown," said Karen Hazlehurst, of Colorado Springs. "We really haven't been out much and we were worried about getting in an age category that can get the virus, but I felt like it's time to get out."
Eddie Lovelace, of Colorado Springs, moved to Michigan during the pandemic to finish college and was back at his favorite slot machine.
"It's really nice, actually," he said. "Something to get out of the house and do. We've all been cooped up and it's just nice to get out of the house. It's fun."
Lee said around half of the casino's 300 employees are back at work. The rest will return as other parts of the casino reopen.