Compromise reached on gambling funds
DENVER ” College supporters and the state Historical Society reached a deal Thursday to share the extra money that Colorado casinos are expected to rake in under new, looser rules.
The House Education Committee approved the plan unanimously and sent it to the full House for debate.
Last November, voters gave Colorado’s casino towns the power to add games, expand hours and raise betting limits. The state gets a cut of the increased revenue under the measure, called Amendment 50.
However, Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, said the new law approved by voters was unclear how to divvy up the revenue, and casinos said they were unable to distinguish between money raised under the old rules that would continue to go to preserve historic buildings and money raised under the new rules for community colleges.
Ed Nichols, president of the Colorado Historical Society, which currently administers the program, said both institutions provide educational opportunities to Coloradans and both deserve a share of the new funding.
Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College system, said voters across the state overwhelmingly approved the amendment because they wanted to make sure community colleges got more money. She said 59 percent of voters approved the plan, with majority support in rural areas like Yuma and Morgan counties, and urban areas including El Paso and Pueblo counties.
She said with the downturn in the economy, community colleges have seen an 11 percent increase in enrollment in recent months.
Former state Sen. Sally Hopper said heritage tourism is on the increase statewide as more people search for their roots. She said it has become a booming industry in Colorado, especially in mining towns and rural areas that need money to protect buildings and jobs.
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