Oct 17, 2010 7:38 PM by Matt Stafford

Gold Rush Casino closing, plans to move under new name

If one of Cripple Creek's older casinos shut down, it would be a big change; but apparently that's only partially true for the Gold Rush Hotel and Casino.

"That was rumors around town," says Jean Putnam, a casino host. "It's not true, we're moving"

Moving just up the street to the Historic Imperial building; that hotel and casino shut down earlier this year. The owners, Gary and Wini Ledford have leased the building to the owners of the Gold Rush. The Gold Rush will also get a new name for the new location. It will be changed to "Big Jim's Gambling Hall and Saloon".

"I've had to explain to all of our guests, calm their fears," says Putnam.

Sunday was one last hoorah at the Gold Rush.

"Last day in this building for operations," explains General Manager Jim Druck.  He says doors will close at 2 a.m. Monday morning.

The Gold Rush has been at the corner of Second St. and Bennett Ave. for the last 12 years, but recently they've been getting ready for the change.

"I learned about two months ago that I had difficulty with this lease," explains Druck. He says that's when he let his employees know possible change was in the air. Druck says the economy has taken its toll on Cripple Creek and they were no exception.

"It was in our interest to try and downsize our operation."

Debbie Juhl has been gambling in the old mining town for years, she says she was there when the Gold Rush opened in the building that it is now moving out of. In that time, she's seen the change in business across the board in Cripple Creek.

"It can be really slow compared to what it used to be," Juhl explains. She says she'll visit the new location up the street.

However, for one group -- the employees -- it's still up in the air whether they'll be making the trip.

"I won't have 138 jobs, but we're trying to address that," explains Druck. He says they've had some ideas, like job sharing, but they're waiting on the go ahead from the State Division of Gaming and aren't sure when that will be coming in.

In the mean time, employees will get two weeks severance pay and a chance to move up the street if and when they reopen. Managers hope that isn't long.

"The sooner we can get open, the sooner we can get people back to work," explains Druck.

One thing is for sure, Cripple Creek is in for change.


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