Last week we set out to gauge readers’ feelings about the slow road to Colorado casinos reopening after state-mandated closure orders from mid-March begin to wind down. More than 130 likely casino-goers voiced their opinions in our survey, giving us a general snapshot of the gambling community’s sentiment.
The closing of Colorado casinos over coronavirus-related concerns is unprecedented in the state, which has already chalked up a gaming revenue loss of $99 million through April 30, officials said at a meeting last week. CO gambling destinations like Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, and Central City, which depend on gambling revenue as their main source of income, have been hit hard by the closures.
With the state yet to offer specific guidance for casino reopenings, those who make a living in the gaming industry remain eager for answers. Colorado casino enthusiasts are also anxiously awaiting the all-clear signal to return to their pastime of choice, but our survey indicates they have certain expectations for when that happens.
Read on for some of our key survey takeaways as casinos get ready to reopen in a very different world from when they closed.
Colorado Casino-Goers Are (Very) Ready To Return
We asked respondents how long they would wait to return to Colorado casinos once they open their doors.
- A strong majority (74%) said they were planning on visiting their favorite casino “as soon as they’re open.”
- A much smaller cohort, 18%, said they would “probably wait a few weeks” before returning.
- Less than 6% said they would wait “a month or more,” and just a few respondents in total said “several months” (1.44%) or “I’m never going back” (0.72%).
These answers indicate a pent-up demand among casino customers to return to action, which could present a challenge for casinos in enforcing social distancing measures. With the number of gamblers allowed inside expected to be capped, and a reduction in the number of machines and tables available to players, it’s not out of the question that there will be lines out the door once casinos reopen.
Most CO Gamblers Want Enhanced Safety Measures
With all that’s still unknown about how Colorado casinos will look in a post-pandemic world, we can expect a few obvious changes.
A high-touch business like casinos, where dice, cards, chips, and slot machine buttons are touched by countless hands each and every day, will very likely see increased use of hand sanitizing stations, for one example. Plexiglass barriers in front of cashier cages might also become a common sight.
That said, our survey respondents for the most part indicated it was important to them that casinos take safety measures into consideration when reopening. In all, just under 75% of Colorado casino-goers we surveyed said they consider such safety measures put in place by casinos to be either “very important” (50%) or “somewhat important” (24.64%). Just over 13% of respondents said they view such measures as “neither important or unimportant,” and only 12.32% said they “don’t care at all” about enhanced safety protocols.
Expect To See CO Gamblers Wearing Masks
One of the enduring cultural markers of the COVID-19 era will surely be the introduction of face-worn protective masks when people venture out in public. It is very likely that once casinos in Colorado are open for business, many patrons and probably some employees will be wearing some kind of face covering in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
According to our survey, more than three-quarters of likely casino-goers in Colorado (75.36%) say they intend to wear masks when they return to casinos. Just under 25% say they will not.
It is not yet known if casinos will be mandating customers wear masks and how they will handle enforcement of such a requirement. However it will likely end up being another needle casinos must delicately thread to balance their need to get back to business with the health and safety of their patrons.
Casino Visitors Could Be Tempted Back With Perks
Most frequent casino-goers have at least one loyalty card they use to rack up free perks, often more than one. Loyalty programs are one way casinos help cushion the blow for gamblers losing at the machines or tables and keep customers coming back.
Coaxing gamblers back to casinos in droves could initially prove challenging, as the industry has never had to bounce back from a situation of this magnitude. But our survey respondents indicated that their favorite casinos could entice them back sooner by sweetening those perks a bit.
Among our survey takers, just over half said free-play offers would be the most tempting lure to get them back in the doors (50.72%). The second-most common answer given by gamblers (30.43%) was that free hotel stays would pique their interest. Free dining or beverage credit was the most sought-after perk among a modest 10.14% of respondents, and 8.7% said a boost to their rewards points would be their biggest draw.
More detailed information on our survey results can be found here, and our findings in full can be made available upon request.