This current-day clamor for cash echoes long-ago Colorado's Gold Rush, which started here in 1859. Because of its newfound riches, Central City nearly became the state capitol. It had more culture than Denver, and all that gold besides. Several opera houses sprung up by the early 1860s and the most enduring, the Central City Opera House, still holds performances today, including a summer opera festival.

The town also boasted gaming halls, saloons and brothels, as did most of the mining towns. The annual Madame Lou Bunch Day each summer honors the memory of the town's most famous madame and gives everyone a chance to kick up their heels.

Black Hawk and Central City sport several gaming venues, from intimate parlors to enticing resorts. Visitors tempt Lady Luck 24 hours a day at $100-limit blackjack, craps, roulette and poker tables, as well as slot and video machines at more than 20 casinos.

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