BLACK HAWK, Colo. — After months of sitting idle, the blackjack, roulette, and poker tables in Gilpin County casinos are back in action.
On Friday, the county entered the 'Protect Our Neighbors' phase of coronavirus restrictions, allowing hundreds of more visitors to enter. It also allows more relaxed restrictions on casino activities.
"Now that we have tables back you can hear the chips, you can hear the cards, it is honestly a great feeling," exclaimed Steve Zlobin, who manages the table games at Monarch Casino in Black Hawk. "We are very very excited."
Table games are a major draw for casinos that have taken a financial hit from coronavirus restrictions. However, they also present new risks for players to be exposed to the disease. Monarch managers say they have a strict plan in place to keep visitors safe.
"On every table we have hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes," explained Zlobin while discussing the safety plan. "Every guest that sits down has to sanitize their hands. Our chips are sanitized daily. We replace cards every two hours on our carnival games and every four hours on our blackjack tables."
On top of sanitization, spaces are limited at each game table, and guests are not allowed to touch any cards.
"We had rigorous training with our team, not only to ensure everybody’s safety but how to communicate things properly and how to make sure that everybody is comfortable here."
The shutdowns have hurt Gilpin County that receives over half of its tax revenues from gambling.
"Basically casinos pay for everything or almost everything that we are able to do in the county," said Gilpin County Commissioner Ron Engels. "Having them closed for three months was absolutely devastating."
As table games open once again, officials hope the revenues will as well.
"We have got good things on the horizon but it is going to be awhile until we are back to normal."