By Matt Kroschel

BLACK HAWK, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado casinos are once again striking it rich, well almost.

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New numbers from the Colorado Division of Gaming show casino gambling revenues in the state — and the taxes generated — are up 7 percent over the same time last year.

The industry was hit hard starting in 2008, forcing cities in Colorado like Black Hawk to cut back their staffs and services offered due to less revenue coming in from the gaming industry in which the rely almost entirely upon for funding their budget.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“We had to lay off some great people, and we have still not replaced them. We have learned to do more with less, but things are on the rebound,” Black Hawk City Manager Jack Lewis told CBS4 Tuesday. “We are about 10 percent off where we were in 2007, so it is improving, but still not back to pre-recession levels yet for us.”

In Black Hawk, resorts have spent millions adding new hotel rooms, remodeling properties, and bringing in new games to draw back gamblers from the Front Range.

“The recession hit us all hard, but we are happy to say folks are coming back and enjoying all the new features we have added to make this property even more enjoyable,” Ameristar spokesman Sean Demeule said.

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Ameristar (credit: CBS)

Ameristar (credit: CBS)

According to the Division of Gaming, from July to October, adjusted gross proceeds, or wagers less payouts, at Colorado’s casinos reached $281.7 million. That is up 7 percent from the $262.1 million collected in the same period last year and represents the best start to a fiscal year since 2007. Back then casinos reported $287.4 million over the same span.

“The industry is just building on the strong numbers we had this summer going into fall,” said Lois Rice, Executive Director of the Colorado Gaming Association, whose members control more than three-quarters of the state’s gaming devices.

Rice told CBS4 she can’t say any factor is driving such a robust start aside from milder weather and more casinos with the ability to serve alcohol after 2 a.m.

Colorado casino managers have blamed a smoking ban implemented in 2008 for further hurting their bottom line. In their favor, voters approved longer operating hours and higher wager limits at the state’s casinos.

Black Hawk (credit: CBS)

Black Hawk (credit: CBS)

Black Hawk city leaders are in the middle of a massive outdoor pedestrian shopping plaza project and several resort properties have new remodeling happening inside their hotels and casinos.

Industry leaders say it is a little too early to tell if the upward trend will continue throughout the year, but so far data is positive.

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Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.