22 August 2014

Vote Yes On Colorado Amendment 68

Colorado ballot issue 68 would amend the state constitution to allow casino gambling at three existing horse racing tracks, one in Aurora, one in greater Grand Junction, and one in Pueblo. Special taxes on the casinos would be applied to K-12 education and charter schools.

It is supported by Rhode Island's Twin River Casino. The sanctimonious ads opposing it from "Don't Turn Racetracks Into Casinos" are paid for by a coalition of (at least) five of Colorado's existing casino operators. This measure has almost no financial support or opposition from anyone who isn't in the casino business.

As Ballotpedia, linked above explains:
Voters rejected the legalization of horse and dog racing in 1940, but later approved such gambling in 1948. In 2003, an initiative to allow video lottery at specific horse and greyhound racetracks with some proceeds going towards tourism promotion and open spaces for parks and recreation was defeated with fewer than 20 percent of voters supporting it. . . .

Following the 1990 legalization of casinos in Colorado, the state's first casino was opened in 1991. As of 2013, Colorado had 41 operating casinos employing 9,278 people. Gambling revenues in Colorado are subject to a graduated tax with a maximum assessment of 20 percent. This came to a total of approximately $104.26 million from casinos in 2013. Gambling revenue taxes are not currently allocated specifically to kindergarten through high school education. Instead, they are allocated to local communities, historic preservation, community colleges, tourism promotion and the general fund.

Colorado also has a state lottery, which has been operating since 1983. The lottery was made possible by a 1980 ballot measure, Referendum 2, which also required the net proceeds of the lottery to be put in the state's conservation trust fund. In 2013, the lottery contributed $59.2 million to the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), $54.3 million to the Conservation Trust Fund, $13.6 million to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and $8.6 million to the Public School Construction Assistance (BEST Program).
The case for saying no to three new casinos at locations where gambling is already conducted would hold much higher moral ground if it weren't for the fact that Colorado already has a state lottery, horse and greyhound gambling, and 41 casinos. The fact that the opposition is funded by existing casinos fighting to reduce competition in locations that are more convenient than their own, while claiming to have other justifications for their position also isn't impressive.

When it comes to gambling, the people of Colorado aren't virgins; they are whores. Preventing three new casinos from opening in places were two other kinds of gambling are already legal won't make the state any more pure, but may raise a little tax revenue for schools and may help Aurora's struggling economic situation.

From my perspective, as a Denver resident, I'd much rather have Aurora open a new casino that doesn't compete directly Denver venues, than have it pursue Aurora's recent efforts to build a Convention Center to compete with the one in downtown Denver linked into a regional public transit plan, or Aurora's effort to steal the stock show from Denver. An approach to developing the tourism industry in Denver that doesn't undermine huge investments in the same thing that have already been made in the metropolitan area by building a casino is a better choice. Maybe Aurora's next step will be to attempt to legalize and tax the prostitution industry that thrives on its stretch of East Colfax.

The opposition to Ballot Issue 68 (which has outspent the casino's effort to pass it by more than three to one) is pure astroturf with no more concern for actual public opinion than the campaign to prevent a new taxi service and Uber from entering the metropolitan Denver transportation market. Given this reality, allowing three more casinos to enter the gambling marketplace in exchange for more taxes is the right choice.

Vote Yes On Colorado Ballot Issue 68.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

You pay for the Racetrack aka casino...

Anonymous said...

I am voting yes on this Amendment 68. Sick of the thieving casinos who won't pay bus fares and think casinos should be available throughout the metro Denver area. I hope Black hawk and the other thieves go out of biz!

Anonymous said...

Yes, we need casinos in Denver. The prissy Roy Romer caused the gaming to be in the lowlife towns in the mountains and gave the thrives and bus companies a license to steal. Try getting enough points to redeem bus fare. You must spend at least 100 dollars to get enough to get a bus ticket. All the black hawk Anne central city casinos are owned by Vegas thieves! I say I hope they go belly up!

Anonymous said...

So we give 35% to schools while simultaneously bailing out a Rhode island casino and taking jobs from the existing Colorado casinos.
Schools are great don't get me wrong but I quote Vickie Armstrong "We know Coloradans care deeply about education" if that is true then I'm sure we can find a better way. Do we really want the corruption that will most definitely come with the new casinos.

Anonymous said...

NO, we don't need casinos in Aurora. This is so poorly written, what about Havana Off Track Betting, will they be allowed to offer slots and table games as well? The casinos in Blackhawk, Central City and Cripple Creek have invested millions in their facilities and followed all state laws. Vote NO, I enjoy gambling but I don't want it in my back yard.

Anonymous said...

New casino is a good thing in a more attractive location. Why 2 hours to the mountains?

Anonymous said...

I miss the dog track here in colorado. We work for our money no one should be able to tell us how we can spend our hard earned money.

coopmagoo said...

Vote NO, already have casinos available within short drive of Denver. Plus all of the promised tax benefits of legalized marijuana, which haven't materialize to date. ENOUGH ALREADY. Keep casinos out of Aurora.

Anonymous said...

"I enjoy gambling, but I don't want it in my backyard"!! Seriously???? Even though this additional money will be going towards education???? Lord knows education needs the money. What I read from that statement is pure and simply hypocrisy!!!!

Rick said...

Two of the three horse tracks don't actually exist.

So casino companies fund the "NO" ads? A casino company funds the "YES" ads. They're all out-of-state, trying to take Colorado money out of the state. They like to show you guys the taxes they pay, but they couldn't pay those huge amounts if they weren't making a lot more than that.

The promised (estimated) taxes they pay don't account for the fact that some people (like some of you here) would shift their gaming from the mountains to Aurora; therefore, it's not "new" tax money, but rather a mix of new money (from people who don't gamble now) and "old" tax money that used to come from the mountain casinos, but those gamblers just go to Aurora instead.

Mike Hoffmann said...

This is NOT the type of language I would want to see in our constitution. Vote NO on 68. All of the tax proceeds from the single casino that would open in Aurora go to K-12 education and none goes to the areas that existing casinos pay into, such as the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission, historic preservation, etc. I think all casinos in the state should follow the same rules and pay their fair share for the oversight of gaming in the state. There is a limited amount of money that people are willing to gamble and an Aurora casino would drain money away from the casinos that actually fund the Gaming Commission, leaving the Commission to do more work on fewer funds. And yes, I do gamble in state on occasion and live in the Denver metro area.

Anonymous said...

People are selfish. Struggling, poor, rich, all kinds of people enjoy Gambling as entertainment. So let their selfish entertainment pay for education, since its not like everyone is running out to donate to schools, but I can tell you they're still Gambling for entertainment. Its not like the kid's will be in harm's way?? And isnt that what we care about? I still say, in its most exaggerated way, corruption or not, education is education.

Sandra Wickham said...

I'm voting "No" on 68. As a retired teacher, I am most concerned about children getting a good education. Must we appeal to the devil to get this to happen? No schools or educational organizations are supporting this amendment, and that means a lot in my book. Until we get rid of Common Core and high-stakes testing in the state of Colorado, I would not approve of any money being funneled into "educating" children
with this untested, ridiculous program in place. Let's clean out our Legislature and get a new Governor, and maybe then we can talk about real education.

Sandra Wickham said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm voting YES. Those fuckers that killed Blackhawk can go to hell.

Anonymous said...

1) I don't care who's for or against it. The arguments that base a conclusion on who supports or does not support this lack thoughtfulness.
2) As the retired teacher noted throwing more money at a broken system won't fix it. I am done funding schools, the operation of the schools need to change before we throw more money at them. However:
3)We should judge the bill based upon the overall impact of the bill, not just the impact to the schools. I find it humorous that a bill about gambling is being debated and marketed as a support your local school district bill.

andrew said...

Please not that the deleted comments were deleted because they were inadvertent duplicates, not because of the the opinions expressed therein.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with a casino anywhere. However, this Amendment is not the right way to do it.

1. It does not account for the cost to Aurora for improvements, services, support, etc...meaning the tax payers will foot the bill.

2. The Amendment alters state laws for one entity. This is not a use of the initiative process that should be supported. They should abide by the same regulations as all other casinos in the state.

Anonymous said...

You say Amendment 68 will “... allow casino gambling at three existing horse racing tracks...”

According to 9News, only one of those tracks exist at this time. And it will take five years of operation before they can apply to add gaming. This amendment will give one company a five year monopoly.

You also say “...may raise a little tax revenue for schools...” Again, according to 9News, much of the revenue will come from cannabilizing existing casinos, so the estimates of $114 million are high. The real number is closer to $82 million, resulting in about $97 per student. If school districts around the state are similar to Jefferson County schools, about 50% will go to administration and 50% to the students. This results in about $49 per student.

Two questions:
1. Do you really think we should use the state Constitution to give a company a monopoly?
2. Do you really think that $97 per student (if the administration doesn't take a cut)will create any signficant change?

Steve Conner said...

Dear fellow Coloradans,

I beg you to please VOTE NO on Amendment 68 this fall. We all want our children to have great public schools. But this amendment is the wrong approach.

Amendment 68 allows a Rhode Island investment group to come into Aurora and build a new casino and basically enshrines their operating license in the Colorado state constitution, the highest law in the state, effectively putting their rights and interests before and above any laws our elected state legislature attempts to pass to regulate their operations. Our state constitution should be amended only for the most solemn and serious issues, not for the private interests of a single out-of-state corporation.

This casino would suck millions of dollars out of our state economy every month and siphon the money out of state forever. When somebody squanders their entertainment dollars at this casino, that's a meal they didn't buy in your restaurant, a piece of clothing they didn't buy in your shop, a lift ticket they didn't buy in your resort. And unlike the dollars that are spent locally and get reinvested again and again in the Colorado economy creating more jobs, the millions of casino dollars get sucked out of the state economy and the casino investors only pay the equivalent of an ATM fee which they say will go to our schools. That is not good economics for Colorado.

Finally, Amendment 68 not how we as Coloradans should treat one another. Voting yes is like saying "Let's put a casino in their back yard so my school district gets a few more pennies a year." Next time it may be a copper mine in your back yard, or a disposal site her back yard or a refinery in their back yard. We should be concerned for one another and allow these issues to be debated and decided locally.

Please Vote No on Amendment 68.

Anonymous said...

Read the Amendment. The money is not going to our schools or state.

• On Monday the board of directors of the Homebuilders Association of Metro Denver voted to oppose Amendment 68. The homebuilders are very concerned that the Amendment ballot language does not commit the Casino to pay their fair share for road improvements on Gun Club, Quincy and Harvest Roads.

• Yesterday the Colorado PTA voted to oppose Amendment 68. "Amendment 68 is a distraction to voters who want to support proper education funding and misleads voters into thinking that supporting Amendments such as this address public education funding in Colorado," said Colorado PTA President Michelle Winzent. To date not one single school district or education group has endorsed a yes vote on Amendment 68.

Anonymous said...

Followed all state laws? I'll lay odds you have not read the original legislation of 1990. Lawyers may have manipulated the letter of the law through various loopholes, but the spirit of the law has been blatenly ignored time and again.

Anonymous said...

...within short drive of Denver? The area of the proposed casino is a 150 mile round trip to Blackhawk/Central City.

Anonymous said...

...taking jobs from existing Colorado casinos.

While creating jobs for Coloradans. It's competition, and it's a good thing. How many current casino employees will apply at the new casino? How much money will they save each paycheck in transportation cost?
Free market enterprise. Never a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's a good thing.

We will never get our beautiful canyon back, but ANY reduction in the endless traffic is reason enough for me to seriously consider opening new options for gambling in Colorado.

Anonymous said...

Aurora and Arapahoe County have existing measures in place to account for impovements, services, support, etc.

The lack of redundancy does not create a free pass.

Anonymous said...

The Colorado Association of School Boards makes a good point that I hadn't seen anywhere else in the debate:

This approach is not a solution to the state’s continual underfunding of K-12 education. Furthermore, these initiatives frequently prescribe how the generated monies should be used, end up supplanting (NOT supplementing) current school finance funding, and fall short of generating projected income.

Source, page 20

Anonymous said...

if it saves just on life? the roads are safer than years before but odd are in favor of another death on the trip to or from.

Honeybee Asian Bistro said...

i vote " YES ", why not? this is fair competition , i take 3 hours to mountain for round trip , i hate greedy bus company charge 20 dollas for ride

Anonymous said...

must be good... the Teacher Union hates it. I'm voting yes. I hate driving to Blackhawk and dodging buses. Every time I drive down to Albuquerque to see my father, I wonder, Why can't we have casinos like NM does. The Sandia casino, night club, golf course, resort is just a few minutes north of Albuq.

Anonymous said...

I just think the local community ought to get a say in whether it happens. Adding a casino will increase both traffic and crime that the local residents are going to have to deal with. I don't really care one way or the other because I'm not going to go to the track or the casino, but if they were going to construct one in my back yard, I might have stronger feelings about it.

YES! said...

I voting YES on Amendment 68. When I read the comments they look a little fishy? Hello Ameristar Casino is putting 200 million to stop this. How much has the school or PTA lobbyist given to stop this $0 WAKE UP!

Honeybee Asian Bistro said...

My all friends will vote "YES "
i hate blackhawk.

Honeybee Asian Bistro said...

Greedy ameristar casino , why stop new casino in aurora ? why we protect monopoly?

Jude said...

I hate gambling. Vote No.

Anonymous said...

gaming help a economy , look and the gaming we have now,there no complaint fromm either side,the state of navada(were i lived for 12 years)casinos pay for roads,schools,tourism,and most of all thay cover the taxes on store bought grocery(u dont pay over the price shown)so yes gaming like anyother business provides employment & revenue

k said...

Short drive for who ?? If you want to take advantage of some free drinks better pay up for the buss. Freaking joke. This is not a pot issue either Dumb Ass

Anonymous said...

Voting yes sets a precedent for any greedy corporation to finance a campaign of half-truths (to be generous to it) in order to secure a monopoly that is written into the state constitution. Who is going to benefit? Not you and me.

The race track owner (the greedy corporation) knows that Aurora and its citizens would never approve what it is trying to do, so the amendment even takes away the ability of people to have a say in the kind of business permitted in their community. Who is going to benefit? Not the City of Aurora or the people who live there - or you and me.

Of course, we could simply vote no, which would benefit almost everyone except the greedy corporation that is lying to us.

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