Cover Story – Saratoga Casino is the place to win
Black Hawk casino adding more excitement this summer
Just two short years after its grand opening, Saratoga Casino Black Hawk is stirring things up once again. Under new leadership and with a renewed sense of understanding of its clientele, the small casino perched on the corner of Main and Gregory streets in the town’s historic district aims to raise the bar even higher when it comes to customer satisfaction in gaming.
“We’re not intimidated by the big guys,” said Saratoga Casino’s newly appointed General Manager Shawn Harris. “What we lack in square footage, we make up for with the right atmosphere and the right attitude.”
The property has undergone many changes since its old Fitzgerald’s days and has done so without compromising the core values that originally earned the casino the loyalty of its guests. The old-world character and charm of the nearly century-old building still echo through the exposed brick walls,
winding stairs and unique intertwining layout.
An undeniable sense of togetherness and community can still be felt on the cozy gaming floor, which features less than 600 slots and table games, about one-third the size of Ameristar’s.
“The big changes have been mainly cosmetic with extensive maintenance to preserve the old building and add competitive amenities,” Harris said.
The regulars here will tell you that what Saratoga has done best is retaining its exceptional staff, which is still touted as the friendliest in Black Hawk.
“One of the advantages of being a small casino,” said Harris, “is that we can really get to know our guests.”
If you visit often, Saratoga’s helpful team will not only remember your name, but also your drink of choice, your favorite machine, even whom you like to play next to. Both front-line team members and managers pride themselves in truly listening to the players and reading between the lines when necessary.
“We take feedback very seriously,” said Harris. “Our most frequent guests refer to us as their second family. They’ve made friends with other players through the VIP dinners and special events and take advantage of the other perks together. Folks like to sit next to each other and catch up while playing. We went back to the drawing board and completely re-imagined our gaming floor in order to encourage these friendly interactions and make our guests’ experiences friendlier.”
Indeed, with games carefully clustered in a manner that reflects the different ways guests prefer to play, the new gaming floor feels both more intimate and more spacious at the same time.
“They’ve even taken sightlines into consideration, really focused on the details this time,” boasts a long-time patron. “There is better flow across the entire casino and it’s not awkward anymore.”
For Harris, paying attention to what guests have to say is only the beginning. He acknowledges that the Saratoga Casino team still has a lot of work to do, all based around increasing the comfort and satisfaction of their valued guests. Harris knows that great flow is not the only thing that will draw players to Saratoga and that he has to get creative to outdo the big dogs that have all the resources at their disposal.
Harris and the Saratoga team are focusing their efforts on elevated standards of service, while also expanding their fine dining options and adding a new main floor bar. The Mill City Chophouse, on schedule to open in mid-June, boasts a warm romantic atmosphere and a menu that rivals any upscale steakhouse in Denver.
“It’s going to be a quiet place to escape the bustle of the gaming floor for a moment and enjoy a memorable meal you can’t find anywhere else in Black Hawk,” said Food and Beverage Director Brian Gryzb. “Whether you’re using comp dollars for that special anniversary dinner or just want a good steak without breaking the bank, you can do that at Mill City.”
It is the opportunity to win that brings any of us to a casino though, and Harris will not let that side of things be neglected.
“We’ve heard some people say that we tightened the machines after the transition from Fitzgerald’s – in my research since taking the job, that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Harris. “We need to do a better job of communicating how lucky a place to play Saratoga Casino is through advertising and social media. Hopefully, we’ll be able to change that perception to the reality – Saratoga Casino is the place to win.”
One way to win even more money in a casino is the various promotional activities, which Harris promises to enhance as well. With a new
marketing director starting soon and the strong desire to prove themselves and impress, Saratoga’s summer giveaways are bound to be bigger than ever. Along with fun entertainment for everyone, in June the casino is giving away a hot tub, and in July – an ATV.
“Just wait for the coming months,” promises Harris. “It will be even bigger. Excitement on the floor will be reason alone to come check it out for yourselves.”