Amendment 33 looks good but smells bad
Amendment 33 on the Nov. 4 ballot is a ploy by a British gambling concern, Wembley USA, to put video lottery terminals (VLTs) in five Front Range race tracks and make a lot of money.
The basic fact of Amendment 33 is that naked.
That’s why the powers behind Amendment 33 had to dress up the matter by spreading around some money for great causes. Not the least, for the High Country, is a projected $38 million for open space purchases and $25 million to bolster the statewide tourism promotion efforts.
So far, so good.
But not if you are one of Colorado’s competing gambling casinos in an area where voters have already made gambling a legal business. Close to home, that means the gambling towns of Black Hawk and Central City.
So now, we have one set of gamblers trying to find high morale ground in opposing the other.
In our view, neither makes the case. We think Amendment 33 should be voted down because it foists upon those who can least afford it the burden of funding tourism.
Those of us desperate for an economic boost for tourism from Amendment 33 want to see past that fact.
A visit to any of the state’s casinos will reveal that those who can least afford to gamble are those working the slots the hardest. A VLT is not technically a slot machine, but it’s close enough to do the trick.
If Colorado is to improve tourism funding, it needs to put the burden on the community that stands to benefit the most, where customers could afford it the most.
Until 1992, Colorado had the almost-perfect system, funding tourism from a small, almost invisible sales tax on food and beverage sales. But in that year of Douglas Bruce, the tax was voted down.
And now, since we don’t have the fortitude to pay for promotion the right way, many are anxious to fob the job off to the defenseless.
The practiced cynics among us think that people will gamble regardless, so why bother with the moral agony.
Sorry, but we don’t think that justifies taking money better spent on rent and medical care to fund tourism. Colorado is better than that.
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