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Casino employees' app gives the lowdown on Colorado gambling towns

October 4, 2013 Updated: October 4, 2013 at 7:49 am
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Osage Apps co-founders Bill Rentfrow, left, and John Applegate recently released tourism apps for the towns of Cripple Creek and Central City that are available for download on the iPhone and coming soon to the iPad Tuesday, September 24, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette

There's a new iPhone app to help tourists find their way around Colorado's casino towns, but few would have pegged Bill Rentfrow and John Applegate as the ones who would develop it.

Rentfrow and Applegate, both Cripple Creek slot technicians, knew little about developing mobile software applications and neither owned a smart phone when they started working on the idea about a year ago.

But here they are today, founders of a Park County-based company, Osage Apps LLC, which rolled out an application for Cripple Creek and Victor in July and another for visitors to Central City and Black Hawk earlier this month. They plan to expand by year's end with an application for visitors to Laughlin a casino town at the southern tip of Nevada.

Although Applegate spent four years as a software developer for the Army's on-base gaming program and worked in network administration for a Cripple Creek casino, he had little interest in smartphones or applications before Rentfrow, a co-worker at the Century Casino, approached him about building the app.

"I had to teach myself about how to code and program using the Apple mobile operating system before I could even start building the application," Applegate said. "I spent almost all of my free time for the past year developing the application, or probably at least 1,000 hours of my time."

Rentfrow came up with the plan to develop a smartphone application after his wife, Karyn Rentfrow, got stuck at Denver International Airport during a spring 2011 snowstorm and watched a fellow passenger use a mobile device to book a nearby hotel room.

Within six months, he bought an iPad tablet computer and persuaded Applegate to help him develop the app. They settled on designing an application targeting Cripple Creek tourists because of their familiarity with the small Teller County town and its 14 gambling halls.

"We spent a year doing research for the application. We wanted to do something that made sense and that nobody else was doing. There are a few apps for individual casinos in Cripple Creek, but we wanted to market to more than just gamblers. We want users to be able to find out where to buy a T-shirt, where to catch a shuttle or buy gasoline," Rentfrow said.

The project had them immersed themselves in all things Cripple Creek/Victor.

"As we started to do research, we wanted to find out as much as we could about all of the other businesses in the Cripple Creek and Victor areas so we could include it in the app," Rentfrow said.

Rentfrow and Applegate - who still work at the Century Casino - spent about $15,000 on computers, tablets, iPhones, software and software development books, and have sold about 50 of the Cripple Creek and Central City applications so far. They plan on developing free applications for iPad tablet computers by year's end and within a year develop versions for devices using the Android and Windows operating systems. They also hope to adapt the application to be used by other small Front Range towns and even small businesses or educational institutions, Rentfrow said.

"John built the application with features that will allow it to be used for any town, business or organization," Rentfrow said. "Once the platform was built, it only took 16 hours to build the Central City app. We don't expect to make money on the downloads, but rather from adapting the platform for other uses." still work at casino


Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman

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