|By Andrew Wineke, The Gazette, Colorado
Springs, Colo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 1, 2010 --The Imperial Casino Hotel in Cripple Creek shut down on Sunday, putting 44 employees out of work.
The Imperial, located at 123 N. 3rd St., was one of the smaller casinos in the gambling town, with 173 slot machines and no table games, according to the Colorado Division of Gaming. It had struggled in recent years, declaring bankruptcy in November 2008, but continued to operate.
Marc Murphy, co-general manager of Bronco Billy's Casino down the block from the Imperial on Bennett Avenue, said the Imperial's closure probably wouldn't impact the Cripple Creek's other casinos.
"The Imperial has been struggling for years," Murphy said. "I think it will have a minimal impact on business in town."
Cripple Creek Mayor Dan Baader said he was sorry to see the Imperial go, but that the rest of the town was still in good shape.
"I certainly don't want to see another empty building, so I hope somebody is interested in it," Baader said.
The Imperial is the first Cripple Creek casino to close since the Wild Horse Casino shut down in October, 2008, and the first in the state to close since Amendment 50 took effect July 2. The voter-approved amendment raised betting limits, expanded hours and introduced new games.
While Amendment 50 boosted statewide gaming revenues by 9 percent in the final six months of 2009, most of the benefit went to Black Hawk, which is closer to Denver and features larger casinos than Cripple Creek. Gaming revenues in Cripple Creek have been nearly flat in the months since the change.
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