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Tabberone's Travel Guide
Black Hawk, Colorado &
Central City, Colorado

Last Updated May 30, 2015


Black Hawk and Central City are old mining towns in Colorado where limited gambling is permitted. Slot machines, Keno, and table games. Gaming is permitted 24/7 with a $100 table limit and limited service hours on free beverages for players. After we went there a few times, Karen began getting offers for free rooms from the Ameristar Casino and the Isle Casino, which prompted us to go to Black Hawk and Central City more frequently. They are about a 2½ hour drive from Hartsel. Central City has shops, historical attractions, and restaurants while Black Hawk is casinos, casinos, casinos. Colorado law prohibits smoking in casinos. This is a major plus over Las Vegas casinos for your average non-smoking gambler.

These "twin towns" are a few miles north off of Interstate 70 west of Denver. Central City has more limited development and has retained the old mining town look and feel while Black Hawk has a number of larger and gaudier casinos. The two towns are not even a mile apart but seem years apart. One big thing we like about the casinos in Black Hawk and Central City are the numerous self-serve soft drink and coffee stations. Almost every casino has at least one place where patrons can help themselves to coffee or soda instead of flagging down a waitress. Most casinos do have waitresses to serve beer and mixed drinks, and these waitresses do also serve soda and coffee, but it so nice to be able to get a coffee or soda right away. This is very good if you, like Karen, are a "slot-hopper", and are never at one machine long enough to get a drink served to you. Also, several casinos have self-serve popcorn machines, which is a nice touch. Unlike Las Vegas, when you tip dealers in Black Hawk and Central City, usually the tip goes to that specific dealer, whereas in Las Vegas tips are shared by all in the "union" house.

Website URLs and such are provided as we locate them. We cannot vouch for the accuracy of the URLs or if they still exist should you use them. As a rule, we rarely "link" to a website but rather we give the URL when relevant. We are not attempting to list every casino, hotel, shop and restaurant but rather those that we frequent. Table games can be changed without notice. Bear in mind, observations about staff, food and rooms are our opinions based upon having been there. Your experience could be different from ours.

Table minimums tend to vary by casino. Blackjack and some variations of blackjack are offered at some but not all casinos.

Tipping at casinos is not required but it is recommended by us. Click here for our opinion as to why we suggest players tip when they can.

Karen and Mike are Colorado residents who frequent the Colorado casinos in Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. They are not connected with the gaming industry, nor have they ever been in any manner except as players.


Central City, Colorado
http://www.centralcitycolorado.com/
Coming off of I-70, the fastest way to Central City is the Central City Parkway, Exit 243. This winding road is two lanes in both directions until you get to Central City. Travel time from I-70 is about 15 minutes. Street parking is limited. Some of the casinos offer patron parking. The Century Casino, the largest casino (or second largest - not sure) in Central City, has a multi-floor indoor parking garage that is open to the public. It offers easy walking access to the rest of the Central City casinos and shops. Central City has seven (7) casinos but we detail only those three casinos we frequent the most. Some information, such as number of slots and the number of hotel rooms, comes from the Colorado Gambler and The Deal. Casinos listed alphabetically.


Century Casino & Hotel
Large underground parking garage. Pop corn machine.
Rooms
The Century has 26 hotel rooms. We have not stayed at this casino hotel.
Table games and slots
Table games upstairs include blackjack, roulette and craps. Blackjack begins around 11am with a minimum of $3 and attracts a lot of regulars. Open 24/7 with 520 slots. In December 2013 they started to have some technical problems with slot payouts which caused long delays because of the slow paperwork process and the number of patrons standing and waiting.
Website - http://central-city.cnty.com/

Johnny Z's Casino
Use Century Casino parking garage right across the street.
Rooms
The Johnny Z's has no hotel rooms.
Table games and slots
Table games include blackjack, 3 card poker, craps and roulette. Blackjack begins around 9am with a minimum of $3 for the shoe and $10 double deck. 367 slots.
Website - www.johnnyzscasino.com/

Reserve Casino & Hotel (formerly Fortune Valley Casino)
Downhill past the Century Casino. Has large indoor parking garage behind the casino. The Reserve has recently undergone renovations (2011) seeking to "upgrade" its image along the lines of the Hardrock Cafe to attract the younger crowd. Except that simple demographics show that it is the older crowd with disposable income that frequent these casinos, not the younger crowd as much. The Reserve has spent millions on new lighting and design that in our opinion might do nothing but drive away their older crowd. The name change took place January 3, 2012. [Last room stay January 2012]
Rooms
The Reserve easily has the most rooms in Central City with 119. The rooms are somewhat smallish. Old screen TV with cable. Windows do open. Thermostat is cumbersome and unreliable. The AC actually made the room warmer, not cooler. Not enough electrical outlets in the room.
Bath Rooms - Motel-size bath rooms with one sink but has a large counter area. One double-outlet in bath room. Modern showerhead. Good night light.
Positive - Internet access is available and free.
Food
The Chef's Kitchen was setup like a buffet but it was not self-serve. Someone behind the counter served you, buffet-style. Not only was it slow but also labor intensive when it should not be. The table at which we sat was sticky from previous night. And why do they charge for soda and coffee when the same coffee and soda is free just a short walk away in the casino? We were not impressed. We have been told the serving style has been changed but we still do not intend to go back. [Last ate there January 2012]
Table games and slots
Blackjack, craps, roulette and some specialty games. Blackjack begins around 8am with a minimum of $5. Open 24/7 with 700 slots. Live Poker.
Website - http://reservecasinohotel.com/


Black Hawk, Colorado
http://www.cityofblackhawk.org/
Coming off of I-70, the fastest way to Black Hawk is Exit 244. This winding road is one lane in both directions. In the winter this road can be dangerous so be very careful. Travel time from I-70 to Black hawk is about 15 minutes. Street parking is non-existent. The casinos offer patron parking. The casinos in Black Hawk are generally larger than those in Central City.
Black Hawk has about 17 casinos but we detail only those casinos we frequent the most (9). Some information, such as number of slots and the number of hotel rooms, comes from the Colorado Gambler and The Deal.

Ameristar Casino & Hotel
Very large indoor parking garage. Has flavored international dry coffee creamers. [We usually stay there at least once a month.]
Rooms
35 floors and 536 rooms gives the Ameristar the number one hotel slot in Black Hawk. It has meeting rooms, indoor pool, spa and a fitness center. The rooms are well-kept and spacious. Large flat screen TV with DirectTV but with what we consider is a bad and very slow on-screen TV menu.
Bath Rooms - Roomy bath rooms with double sinks and a large counter area. A major plus is the extra electrical outlets in the bath rooms. Each bath room has a tub and shower stall. Toilet is in a small side room with door which allows for additional privacy.
Suites - there are four or five "suites" on most floors. Suites are the size of two regular rooms and then some. Suites have a gas fireplace in the center with a large flat screen television on each side. They come with two bathrooms, king-sized bed, Jacuzzi and a bar area. The master bath has a small flat screen TV in it. Roomy and very nice. Most floors have one "Mountain Pine Suite" which is at the front end of the hotel with a terrific view.
Positive - Internet access is available and free.
Fitness Center - Best Fitness Center - Really nice. Large, clean, with lots of modern equipment. Open 24/7.
Food
Centennial Buffet - Often has discount offers for slot play. Large with well-prepared food selection. Opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Variety of food choices include Mexican, Chinese, Italian, American, a carving station and a very large salad bar. Has crab legs only on weekends..
Fireside Kitchen - Opens at 7am for breakfast. Large portions and good service. SSunday -Thursday 7AM-10PM, Fri-Sat 7AM-11PM. We eat breakfast there very often.
Timberline Grill - Closed Monday and Tuesday. Reservations. Pricey. It appears that the management has decided to destroy what was an excellent steak house. The menu has been reorganized into illogical groups and into small type that makes it difficult to read in the less light. And what steak house removes a baked potato from their menu? Timberline Grill did. The pork chops were covered in so much "liquid smoke" to almost make them inedible. The sirloin steak was served on a metal plate that was so hot one could burn their fingers trying to eat it. The fancy steak knives are dull and too large. And so on. We usually ate there at least once a month but we are now going across the street to the White Buffalo at the Lodge Casino.
Waypost Deli - Open from 11am to 7am. Open all night which makes it available for those late night players. Good-sized menu.
Star Club Lounge - A perk awarded to higher-level card-holders. Sometimes they have free passes available for us mere mortals. Food and drinks are free. Free. Free food and drinks. Did we mention, "free"? Food was excellent, but like the Timberline Grill, with whom it shares a kitchen, the food quality is beginning to suffer. Cozy atmosphere with lounge seating, bar, small buffet and four flat screen TVs. If you get the chance, do go.
Table games and slots
Probably the largest number of tables in Black Hawk (17). Blackjack, craps and roulette and extended table games all night. Tends to have higher minimums for table play than the other casinos. Blackjack is 24/7 with a minimum of $10 during the night with a $15 minimum or more during busier evening hours and weekends. Has 14 Live Poker tables as well. Open 24/7 with over 1400 slots.
Casino Hosts
Casino hosts are friendly and energetic and seem to have a perpetual smile. In our opinion, the best casino host in Black Hawk is Josh Rieple at the Ameristar.
Website - www.ameristar.com/BlackHawkColorado

Lodge Casino & Hotel
Indoor parking garage. Affiliated with the Gilpin Casino.
Rooms
The Lodge has 50 hotel rooms. We have not stayed at this casino hotel.
Food
Seasons Buffet - Sometimes has discount offers for slot play. Food is good. A smaller seating capacity than the buffets at the Ameristar and at the Isle. Offers a good breakfast with a large selection and lots of fresh fruit. Their crab legs were easy to pick and eat unlike some places. Dinner buffet was very good. [Last ate there March 2015]
White Buffalo - Reservations suggested. Prices are reasonable and portions are large. The White Buffalo, like the TARDIS, is larger on the inside than it appears from outside. Good service and good menu selections. [Last ate there May 2015]
Table games and slots
Large number of tables. They recently (March 2012) increased the table area and number of tables. Blackjack, craps and roulette and extended table games all night. Blackjack has a minimum of $5 for the shoe and $10 double deck. Blackjack minimums tend to get raised to $10 or more on weekends and holidays. Open 24/7 with 975 slots. Live Poker.
Website - http://www.thelodgecasino.com/

Golden Gates Casino
Indoor parking garage. Affiliated with the Golden Gulch Casino (slots only) and the Golden Mardi Gras Casino. When the Mardi Gras Casino was renovated and expanded during the summer of 2013 the all-night Blackjack games were moved across the street to the Golden Gates. Have not plyed at either in the last two years so not familiar with their hours.
Rooms
The Golden Gates has no hotel rooms.

Table games and slots
Blackjack with a minimum of $5 for the shoe and $10 double and single deck. Blackjack minimums tend to get raised to $10 on weekends and holidays. Only casino in Black Hawk along with Golden Mardi Gras that we know of offering surrender. Live Poker.

Website - http://goldenmardigras.com

Golden Mardi Gras Casino
Indoor parking garage across the street at the Golden Gates. Affiliated with the Golden Gulch Casino (slots only) and the Golden Gates Casino. The Mardi Gras Casino was renovated and expanded during the summer of 2013.
Rooms
The Golden Mardi Gras has no hotel rooms.
Food
Bourbon Street Cafe & Buffet - 3rd Floor. We ate there Wednesday, August 21, 2013, around 5:30pm, shortly after it officially opened. It was not worth the short walk in the rain. Terrible. Instant mashed potatoes, the baked chicken was dry, the Spanish rice was dry and hard, the crab legs were dry and difficult to pick, clarified butter for the crab legs, no tomatoes at the salad bar, the fresh fruit looked iffy, and in many places there was food on the floor dropped by diners during lunch that had not been cleaned up. The BBQ pork and the pasta were fine. Surprise. The plastic food covers in several places were too extended making serving oneself tricky. And the music. Except for the staff, the patrons were overwhelmingly older but the background music was some strange rock group playing unidentifiable songs.

Further, an advertisement we saw the next day in The Deal stated that they were having a a special, "Buy One Buffet, Receive One FREE", so we were over charged as well. The advertisement stated no restrictions on the offer yet we were not offered the discount nor was there any mention of it when we went into the buffet. We will not be returning.

Table games and slots
Blackjack second floor with a minimum of $5 for the shoe and $10 double and single deck. Tables open around 11 am. Blackjack minimums tend to get raised to $10 on weekends and holidays. Only casino in Black Hawk along with Golden Gates that we know of offering surrender. Roulette and craps are also available. 680 slots.
Website - http://goldenmardigras.com

Lady Luck Casino & Hotel
Indoor parking garage across the street. Has flavored international liquid coffee creamers. Affiliated with the Isle Casino.
Rooms
The Lady Luck has 164 hotel rooms. We have not stayed at this casino hotel.
Food
Otis & Henry's Restaurant - 2nd Floor. Sometimes discount offered for age over 50 for breakfast (check with them on offers). Opens 7am. On Wednesdays and Fridays five points of play that day on players card gets $10 off food for age over 50. Good food. We had the "Full House" which is scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and hash potatoes. Inexpensive. The Full House was $4.99 and you could substitute a very tasty fruit cup for the hash brown potatoes. [last visit August 28, 2013]

Otis & Henry's Express - downstairs in the corner. We have not eaten there but if it is run by the same management as the restaurant then we think we could predict good food and low prices.

Table games and slots
24/7 blackjack with a minimum of $5 for the shoe and $10 double deck. Live poker, roulette and craps available. 500 slots. Live Poker.
Website - http://ladyluckblackhawk.com

Monarch Casino, formerly the Riviera Casino
Indoor parking. Has flavored international liquid coffee creamers. New management appears to be really intent on upgrading the casino. Has one of the few self-serve Cappuccino machines that we know of in Black Hawk. Management is planning on adding hotel rooms. This casino is slowly being improved.
Rooms
The Monarch has no hotel rooms at this time but has plans to expand and add rooms.
Food
Monarch Buffet - 2nd Floor. Sometimes discount offered for slot play. Breakfast buffet is very nice with lots of fresh fruit, salad and cold cuts for those seeking something less traditional. This buffet has improved nicely under the new management. The dinner buffet offers a Maine lobster and very good crab legs. The staff is friendly and attentive. Good selection of food well prepared. [last visit March 2015]
Table games and slots
Blackjack advertised as open 24/7 with a minimum of $5 for the shoe. $10 double deck available during the day. Roulette and craps available and some specialty table games. Open 24/7 with 766 slots. Table games are advertised as being open all nignt Thursday through Sunday.
Website - http://www.monarchblackhawk.com/

Isle Casino & Hotel
Indoor parking. Affiliated with the Lady Luck Casino. Has flavored international dry coffee creamers.
Rooms
Isle used to offer a $10 "green" rebate if you stay there two nights and decline housekeeping. Older tube TVs in room. We stayed in a "suite" in August 2011 and found it lacking in a number of areas. While the "suite" had 2 televisions, it lacked adequate flat space where a laptop computer could be set out or other things could be laid down in general. The room windows did open for fresh air. [Last room stay September 2011]
Bath Rooms - The "suite" bath room had a small sink and only one usable outlet. It also had a fair-sized Jacuzzi and shower stall. Toilet seat lid was cheap plastic and bowed down suddenly when sat upon after a shower to dry ones feet. Night light in bathroom light switch was a nice touch.
Positive - Internet access is available and is free.
Food
Calypso's Buffet - Crab leg buffet every night. Previous promotions included specials for diners over 40 years old for $5 of slot play, and others, but we do not know if those still are offered. [last visit was in 2012]
Farraddays - Near the buffet. Opens 5pm. Has early diner special until 7pm. Excellent food and service. Reservations are recommended. Comp coupons awarded for slot play. [last visit was in 2012]
Table games and slots
Large number of tables. 24/7 Blackjack with a minimum of $5 for the shoe and $10 double deck. Roulette and craps offered and some specialty games. Minimums tend to be raised on weekends and holidays. Over 1300 slots. Large Live Poker area on second floor.
Website - http://black-hawk.isleofcapricasinos.com/index.aspx

Canyon Casino
Outdoor parking and valet parking. Has flavored international liquid coffee creamers. Opens at 8am except weekends when they are 24/7. This casino is a very short walk "uphill" from the larger casinos but it worth the walk.
Rooms
The Canyon has no hotel rooms.
Food
Canyon Grille - 3rd Floor. Excellent food. Good prices. Opens for breakfast at 8:30am but from our experience they are not ready for customers until 9am or later. We have eaten breakfast there twice and both times the service was slow and there were a few tables with dirty dishes from the night before.
Table games and slots
Blackjack opens around 11am with a minimum of $3. Minimum is raised to $5 Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. Blackjack and craps available. The Canyon Casino is one of the few casinos where tips are "shared" by all instead of being kept by the dealer being tipped. 415 slots on two floors.
Website - http://www.canyoncasino.com/

Gilpin Casino
Affiliated with the Lodge Casino.
Rooms
The Gilpin has no hotel rooms.
Food
Lucille Malone's Restaurant - 2nd Floor. Excellent food. Reasonable prices. We arrived at 5pm for dinner. Staff very attentive and our server knew the menu well. Their salad bar had tomatoes, unlike a few we can name. And sliced radishes plus three different bell peppers. But, their Club 50 promotion is lacking in information. It has the typical "See Winners Club for details" blurb when they really mean go to customer service and get a coupon. But they do not say it! Why not? Except, all one needs is to be over 50 and a players card. In this day of computers, and Lucille Malone's Restaurant is computerized, a players card and a drivers license should be sufficient. Why make the older patrons jump through bureaucratic hoops for a promotion? Why please? Lucille Malone's Restaurant and the Gilpin Casino are not the only ones doing the "jump through hoops" routine. [last visit August 27, 2013]
Table games and slots
Blackjack opens around 11am with a minimum of $5. Roulette and craps available. Open 24/7 with 460 slots.
Website - http://www.thegilpincasino.com/

The Saratoga Casino
The Saratoga Casino was Fitzgerald's Casino. It was re-branded in July 2013 as Saratoga. Table games were moved from a back room to the front. Originally walking in through the side entrace there was a sign that warned you to watch your step. What the sign did not say is that there is a slight rise in the floor and one could stumble and posibly fall because of that rise. We talked to one person who says she stumbled one evening going into the Saratoga and the security guard told her to leave claiming she was too intoxicated to play. After six months it appears there were enough complaints the Saratoga management finally placed sets handrails with the signs to alert one to the floor issues. Duh!
Rooms
The Saratoga has no hotel rooms.
Food
Garden Buffet - 3rd Floor via newly installed escalators. Food is lacking. The corned beef was tasteless as was the cabbage. The "crusted fish" should have given the name of the fish. The sliced ham was adequate but lacked imagination. The salad bar had no tomatoes. No tomatoes! How is that over looked? Most of the food was too cold except for the two soups which were very hot. The vegetables were tolerable. We did not eat the same selection and shortly after leaving Karen was complaining of stomach problems. It might have been one of the sauces or the dressing she had. (Visited July 23, 2013 - we will not be back)

Another complaint is the "Senior Discount" offer on Mondays and Tuesdays. No where on their web site, FaceBook page, or advertising (The Deal and The Colorado Gambler), was there any mention of the "Senior" being required to go to customer service and get a voucher in order to get the discount. We were offended by the snide attitude of the Garden Buffet's front desk staff, "We won't make you go downstairs and get one, this time." Really? All that is required is a players card for the Saratoga Casino and being over 50 years old. That is easily confirmed by presenting the players card and a photo ID at the buffet desk. Most casino information is computerized so why do seniors have to jump through the "voucher hoop"? The food at the Garden Buffet is not worth the standing in line for the voucher. Eating there free is not worth the price.

Table games and slots
Blackjack opens around 11am with a minimum of $3 or $10 for double deck blackjack. Roulette and craps are available. Opens at 8am except weekends when they are 24/7. 585 slots.
Website - http://www.http:/saratogacasinoBH.com/

Z's Casino, formerly Bullwhacker's Casino
Pop corn machine. Opens at 8am except weekends when they are 24/7. 400 slots.
Table games and slots
Weekends only. Blackjack opens around noon with a minimum of $3. Roulette and craps are available.
Website -


Blackjack in Black Hawk & Central City Dining in Black Hawk & Central City

Casinos in Cripple Creek, Colorado


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