In the glittering constellation of American gambling meccas, the bright lights of Las Vegas continue to reign supreme, casting their neon glow atop the tableau of commercial casino markets. Yet, as the rankings of revenue titans roll out in familiar splendor, one upstart town nestled in the mountainous embrace of Colorado has once again defied expectations and seized the spotlight. The town of Black Hawk, with its sister city Central City, has emerged as the dark horse of the gaming world, catapulting itself into a position that has industry veterans watching closely.

Just a scenic drive from Denver, Black Hawk may be small, but its aspirations are as high as the surrounding Rocky peaks. In 2023, its powerful surge in gross gaming revenue to an impressive $923.2 million not only underscored its dominance as Colorado’s premier casino market but also secured it the twelfth spot nationally, a testament to its burgeoning allure.

As Black Hawk scaled the revenue charts with a robust 3.1% year-over-year increase, it became the talk of the American Gaming Association’s industry update. It surged past other markets, confidently claiming its place as the only one to leap forward by two ranks since the prior year, followed modestly by single-spot ascents in Chicago, The Poconos of Pennsylvania, and Lake Charles in Louisiana.

Beneath the vast western skies, Black Hawk’s newfound vigor stood peerless, outshined only by the impressive growth in Cleveland and the sumptuous Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor among its non-Vegas contemporaries. With its sights set high, Black Hawk is swiftly solidifying its reputation as a formidable force in the western casino landscape.

Within this exclusive club of top-tier markets by GGR, where only five preside in the western domain, Black Hawk/Central City shines with a dazzling GGR that eclipses Reno and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with downtown Las Vegas. Its ascent is not just a story of numbers; it is a crescendo of economic agility, fueled by Colorado’s burgeoning population and enlightened policies that flung wide the doors to table games with loftier limits in 2021.

The town’s vision is crystallizing in the polished halls of new luxury casino hotels, such as the Monarch Casino Black Hawk, which beckon to the high rollers with the promise of opulent experiences. These palaces of chance are the pillars supporting Black Hawk’s lofty aspirations, setting the stage for it to potentially cross the coveted threshold of the $1 billion GGR club in the coming years—a club so elite, it was home to only nine markets last year.

But perhaps what underlines Black Hawk’s remarkable narrative is despite its blazing trail, it does so without the fanfare of its establishments ranking amid the top 20 non-Vegas casinos in revenue. Instead, the East and Central time zones continue to clutch that distinction, with Resorts World New York soaring past MGM National Harbor to reclaim its throne, and Encore Boston Harbor standing gallantly in the third spot.

Even though three champions from Atlantic City hold their ground within this prestigious list, illuminating New Jersey’s status as second only to the Las Vegas Strip in GGR, the grandeur of the Strip has surpassed its runner-up by more than triple the revenue, underscoring the monumental task ahead for those daring to challenge the king of casino markets.

As Black Hawk’s fortunes continue to rise, its narrative weaves into the rich tapestry of the gaming industry, proving that even amongst giants, a small town with a gambler’s heart and a winning streak can secure a place at the high rollers’ table.

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Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson, a Senior Editor and respected voice in iGaming and sports, brings over a decade of journalism experience with a focus on digital gaming and cryptocurrency. Starting in sports analysis, he now leads a team of writers, delivering insightful and advanced content in the dynamic world of online gaming. An avid gamer and crypto-enthusiast, Mark's unique perspective enriches his professional analysis. He's also a regular speaker at industry conferences, sharing his views on the future of iGaming and digital finance. Follow his latest articles and insights on social media.


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