TELLER COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- As Teller County enacts stricter COVID-19 guidelines in an attempt to combat a growing wave of positive cases, we're learning that casinos in Cripple Creek will remain open.
Teller County Commissioner Norm Steen tells KRDO that casinos are being classified as indoor events, so they can remain open with a limited capacity. Casinos will be able to allow 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer.
I was just told by Teller County commissioner Norm Steen that the State will allow Cripple Creek casinos to remain open despite the county being at level orange for safer at home.— Chase Golightly (@cgolightlyKRDO) November 16, 2020
Under Stay at Home Level Orange guidelines, casinos could have faced temporary closure until two-week incidence rates decline. As of Monday, Teller County's two-week COVID-19 incidence rate was about 548 per 100,000 people.
Steen argues that only around 5% of total cases in Teller County have been traced to the Cripple Creek area, so the city's casinos shouldn't be targeted.
The state health department will continue to monitor case numbers in Teller County for the next couple of weeks. Health officials said if things don't turn around in that timeframe, the county could see more restrictions.
The announcement bringing relief to general managers of Cripple Creek casinos. “Big big weight that was lifted off our shoulders," says the general manager for Wildwood casino Matt Andrighetti. "It came a little later in the day than we preferred but good news delivered late is better than bad news delivered anytime.”
Bronco Billy's general manager Baxter Lee also excited by the State health department's decision. “It’s nice to know that our employees are going to be able to retain their job and earn a living as we head right into the holiday season,” Lee says.
Both mangers recognize the new restrictions on their casinos will hurt their business but not as much as being closed.
Lee says, “This decrease in occupancy will be a bit of a challenge during busy times but we will certainly abide by the mandate and we will not exceed those limits.”
“We’re not concerned about the revenue impacts right now," Andrighetti says. "We’re happy we could stay open and keep our people employed through the holidays.”