Colorado is home to 31 casinos including two tribal properties. Gambling in The Centennial State is limited to 3 specific municipalities:
- Black Hawk
- Central City
- Cripple Creek.
These are all historic mountain towns which developed gambling in the 90s as a means of preserving their heritage. All told, just more than 10,000 slot machine games are on offer in Colorado, and all within about a 100-mile radius of Denver, the state’s largest city.
The best payout casinos in Colorado are Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk and Monarch Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk. The loosest slots in Black Hawk are Sizzling 7s, Wild Panda, and 100 or Nothing. The loosest slots in Central City are 88 Fortunes, Buffalo Gold, and Lightning Link. And, the loosest slots in Cripple Creek are Dragon Link, Grand Fu Wheel, and Tarzan.
Colorado’s Division of Gaming makes a monthly report of return statistics based on denomination and jurisdiction. That means I can tell you where to find the loosest slots in Colorado (meaning what city you should visit) and I can tell you the average RTP figures for all the state’s slot machine denominations. Using that information, you can make an informed choice about which of the state’s three gambling jurisdictions you should visit and the type of slot game you should play.
This post will start with a primer on relevant Colorado gaming law, then I’ll share the information that’s currently available about slot machine payouts and how to find loose slots in Colorado.
Colorado Gambling Law
The Colorado Division of Gaming and the Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue are the two state authorities charged with regulating gambling. The state’s two tribal casinos operate based on gaming compacts with the state government, allowing Class III games of chance and skill. That includes all the traditional Vegas-style games, from slot machines and video poker to table games.
Colorado Slot Machine Returns & Payouts
It isn’t hard to access detailed RTP figures and other statistics about all the casino games in the state. Point your browser to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Industry Statistics page. You can download a report as a PDF file or Excel spreadsheet. Their page is updated by the 20th of each month.
The statistics below represent the year-to-date performance of slot games in Colorado as of the date of publication of this post. I plan on updating it on at least an annual basis, maybe more often if the desire is there.
Colorado Statewide Slot Statistics
# of machines – 9,912
All Slots – 92.47%
$0.01 – 90.31%
$0.05 – 93.48%
$0.10 – 93.88%
$0.25 – 93.01%
$0.50 – 93.57%
$1 – 93.86%
$2 – 93.21%
$5 – 93.32%
High Roller Slots – 94.37%
If you’re looking to gamble on the loosest slots in Colorado and you don’t care which of the three gambling cities you visit, your best bet is to stick to denominations of $0.05 and up. Find a denomination between $0.05 and high roller games that you like to play and stick to that denomination. The penny slot games in the state offer a considerably worse theoretical return percentage, particularly in the Black Hawk area.
Below are the statistics for each of the state’s three major gambling jurisdictions:
Black Hawk, Colorado Slot Statistics
# of machines – 5,588
All Slots – 92.32%
$0.01 – 89.86%
$0.05 – 93.59%
$0.10 – 93.88%
$0.25 – 92.2%
$0.50 – 93.95%
$1 – 93.62%
$2 – 92.21%
$5 – 93.31%
High Roller Slots – 94.41%
Of the three gambling spots in the state, Black Hawk is the most Vegas-like, with hotels and resorts somewhat modeled after that famous gambling Mecca. Both Central City and Cripple Creek really ham up the frontier theme, something that you won’t really find at all in Black Hawk.
Black Hawk has the best $0.50 denomination slots in Colorado judging solely on average return to player. I figure the entire area has maybe 5 dozen $0.50 slot machines, definitely at Ameristar, but I think you can find a few of them in every Black Hawk site, they may just not be easy to find. This area’s high roller slots also offer the best possible RTP, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Black Hawk is the only place in Colorado to play $0.10 slot machines, so if that’s your favorite denomination and you find yourself in Colorado wanting to gamble, head to Black Hawk. The entire city is home to maybe 50 of these games, so you may have a hard time finding them. I’ve played them myself at Ameristar Black Hawk, so give that spot a visit. It’s the biggest casino in the state, I know you’ll love it.
Central City, Colorado Slot Statistics
# of machines – 1,530
All Slots – 92.29%
$0.01 – 90.69%
$0.05 – 94.41%
$0.10 – (no slots of this denomination are available in Central City casinos)
$0.25 – 93.92%
$0.50 – (no slots of this denomination are available in Central City casinos)
$1 – 94.39%
$2 – (no slots of this denomination are available in Central City casinos)
$5 – 93.55%
High Roller Slots – (no slots of this denomination are available in Central City casinos)
Central City has the lowest average RTP of all three Colorado casino areas. It’s also home to the fewest active games, more than 1,500 fewer than you’ll find in Cripple Creek, and less than 1/3 of the games available just up the road in Black Hawk.
The truth is that the Central City scene is shrinking, even as Black Hawk and Cripple Creek thrive. Over the past five years, the number of slots available has steadily dropped. Where Central City was once highly competitive, with the lowest average RTP in the state for a couple of years running, new construction in the industry has all but skipped over this part of the state.
Central City can still claim the lowest average RTP for nickel slots and $5 slot games, though you’ll only have about 40 $5 games to choose from in total in the area. If you’re an advantage slots player looking for the best edge against the house and you like to play nickel or $5 slots, Central City has the games you’re looking for.
Cripple Creek, Colorado Slot Statistics
# of machines – 2,794
All Slots – 93.06%
$0.01 – 91.44%
$0.05 – 92.04%
$0.10 – (no slots of this denomination are available in Cripple Creek casinos)
$0.25 – 94.39%
$0.50 – 93.03%
$1 – 94.4%
$2 – (no slots of this denomination are available in Central City casinos)
$5 – 93.3%
High Roller Slots – 94.09%
Cripple Creek has the highest average RTP of all three Colorado gambling jurisdictions, likely a tactic the casinos use to entice people to drive an hour and a half out of their way to play essentially the same games they can find in the Black Hawk area. Slots players who only choose games based on their average return to player would do best to book a stay in Cripple Creek.
This jurisdiction also has the highest average RTP for several denominations: penny slots, quarter slots, and dollar slots. If you prefer to play games in those denominations, you should check out the nearly 3,000 games available in Cripple Creek.
Looking for slots in the $0.10 or $2 denomination? You won’t find those in Cripple Creek, Colorado casinos. This jurisdiction also has very few high roller slots, an average of 13 or 14 games each month. IN fact, if you’re looking to play games in denominations above $1, your selection in Cripple Creek will be very limited.
Colorado Casino Reviews
Since every casino in the state is within a driving area of about an hour and a half, there’s a lot of competition for players. You’ll notice this competitive spirit most in the Black Hawk/Central City area, since you can drive between these two historic mountain towns in less than five minutes. Heck, they’re close enough that you can walk from a Black Hawk casino to one in Central City in about half an hour.
Below are brief guides to two of the best casinos in the state for slots players. I’ve played at both and can heartily endorse both properties.
Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk has 1,600 gaming machines and 40 live dealer tables as well as a poker room and plans for an expanded sports betting area. It’s the state’s largest casino and is now home to a hotel-resort complex akin what you’d find off-Strip in Las Vegas. It’s open 24 hours a day, like all the big casinos in the state, and is home to several restaurants and bars, some of which serve food and drink around the clock.
Monarch Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk has 1,200 gaming machines and 40 live dealer tables. Monarch is really Ameristar’s main competitor, but the amenities at Monarch are just not quite as nice as what you find up the street at Ameristar. Form a pure slot player perspective, the two sites are about equal. They both offer a similar loyalty program and a similar library of games, with a slightly smaller collection available at Monarch.
Casino gambling is a growing industry in Colorado, though it’s relegated to three very small municipal areas. The state has liberalized gaming regulations a few times in the past couple of decades, including allowing for traditional class III table games in all commercial and tribal properties and increasing the max bet size from a crippling $5 to a more manageable $100.
If you’re looking for high-RTP slots in Colorado, or you’re traveling to Colorado and want to play the loosest slots in the state, the figures in this post are based on the latest releases from the state’s own gaming regulators and can easily guide you toward a game you’ll enjoy.