Central City: Strip club operator makes deal to open steakhouse, casino

The national company behind gentlemen’s club Rick’s Cabaret plans to open a steakhouse and casino in downtown Central City after closing a $2.4 million cash deal on a building, but city officials say it won’t offer that particular kind of adult entertainment.

The community opposed a strip club when the deal was first proposed, Mayor Pro-Tem Judy Laratta said.

Mayor Jeremy Fey anticipates the new casino, without a gentlemen’s club, will open by this time next year.

Both Fey and Laratta back the casino project, which received approval.

RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc., which operates a host of nightclubs in Denver and throughout the country, bought a four-story, 30,000 square-foot building at 130 Main St. from the city, according to a news release earlier this month. The future location of Rick’s Cabaret Steakhouse & Casino will offer fine dining options, entertainment and casino and sports betting.

The company submitted a gaming license application for 175 slot machines, six blackjack tables, one craps table and one roulette table for the casino.

Fey called the casino and steakhouse “a great addition to our hospitality, gaming and culinary offerings.”

He described his stance as “totally agnostic” to the possibility of adult entertainment accompanying the venture. “I care that whatever businesses operate in Central City, that they are successful, great employers, and providers of quality products and services.”

Laratta said Rick’s Cabaret Steakhouse & Casino means “new life, new blood, a different attitude, and a business which will likely thrive.”

She pointed to empty storefronts throughout the town and its tough competition with neighboring Black Hawk. Casinos are responsible for nearly 87% of Central City’s revenue.

“The gaming industry saved Central City from becoming a ghost town,” she said. “We’re getting a much needed shot in the arm again.”

She wasn’t offended by the idea of a strip club, but added that “residents voiced their disapproval the minute they got wind of it.”

RCI Hospitality Holdings has made hefty investments in Colorado as of late, with a Dec. 19 purchase of a Greenwood Village food hall at 6575 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. for $5.2 million. It also acquired a site in Aurora for a Bombshells outpost — its military-themed restaurant, with locations in Dallas, Austin and Houston.

RCI Hospitality Holdings owns and operates Rick’s Cabaret, Club Onyx, Foxy’s Cabaret, Scarlett’s Cabaret and other clubs. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, total revenue reached $71.4 million for the company, with the entire year hitting $267.6 million, according to its recorded results.

“We had a great FY22 and look forward to a strong FY23. Our nightclub business should see the full year benefit of the 15 acquisitions and two reopenings in FY22,” said President and CEO Eric Langan. “We’ll also be developing our exciting new Rick’s Cabaret Steakhouse & Casino in Central City.”

From June 2021 to June 2022, Central City slot machines saw more than $1 billion in bets, with more than $80 million in adjusted gross proceeds, said RCI Hospitality Holdings. The company declined to provide further comment.

Other players in the city’s gaming market include Century Casino & Hotel, Easy Street Casino, Grand Z Casino Hotel, The Famous Bonanza Casino, Dragon Tiger Casino and more.

Along with Central City and Black Hawk, Colorado has a third casino town in Cripple Creek. The former mining towns legalized gambling in 1991 and sports betting in 2020.

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