Ex-casino worker says vote for Amendment 33 | SummitDaily.com

Ex-casino worker says vote for Amendment 33

Andrew Gmerek

When it comes to most subjects, political or otherwise, I’d be the first to admit it’s a rare moment when I can be labeled “uniquely qualified” to give my opinion.

On Amendment 33, however, I can honestly say I have a better perspective than most people do. The reason for my high degree of knowledge on the subject stems from having both owned a retail shop in the High Country and having worked in the gaming industry.

Amendment 33 – for those that have somehow missed the constant barrage of television, radio and print advertisements blanketing Coloradans in the recent months – allows the installation of certain types of slot machines in four or five dog tracks located on the Front Range.

Tax money levied from the machines would be used to support the Colorado Tourism Board in its efforts to help Colorado’s sagging economy.

I guess I should state right from the start that slot machines have been good to me. When I look at my world, even though it’s been more than six years since I worked in a casino, the aftereffects are still obvious today.

I purchased my own home because of the gaming industry. I have a good credit rating, and I possess backup job skills I can always use if ever President Bush and the Republican Party figure out a way to curtail freedom of the press as they’ve done with so many other freedoms.

And I’m not alone in my appreciation for the gaming industry.

When I worked in the casinos, I worked with single mothers and fathers, young adults without a higher education and plenty of unskilled laborers, who, like me, could finally make a decent living because gaming opened in Colorado.

Many of the women I worked with at the time told me that the only way they could make a better living than working at the casinos was to dance topless on a stage in Denver. Add into the mix the best health insurance benefits I’ve ever seen, and it’s obvious why I am pro gaming.

Well, I’m pro gaming to a point.

I’m still somewhat uncomfortable about using gaming to support part of the state’s economy, because the industry has a negative side I know better than most.

After all, what most people tend to forget is that casinos are designed to part hard-earned greenbacks from their owner’s pockets. And I’m sorry to say that in the case of gambling addicts, casinos take much more than pocket change.

During my stint in the casino industry, I met plenty of customers who knew their limit and only gambled for fun and entertainment.

I also learned, unfortunately, that the real bread and butter of any casino is the hard-core gambler who risks house, car, life savings and even family for the thrill of a chance at the big score.

Trust me when I say I dealt with plenty of damaged people, and those memories make me think that a “no” vote on Amendment 33 is the correct way to go.

Then I walk down Main Street in Breckenridge and I change my mind. Where there were once storefronts filled with all kinds of goodies a resident or visitor could purchase, now there are nothing but real estate offices hawking second homes.

And since I once owned a store in the High Country and I painfully experienced the effects of the loss of the tourism board, I realize the state has to do something.

So after much seesawing on the issue, I plan on voting “yes” on Amendment 33. In a state where the state-run Lottery and scratch ticket games are pushed harder than a dealer sells drugs outside a playground fence, I seriously doubt a few thousand more slot machines located in businesses where gambling already occurs, will make much of difference.

Besides, if the money raised goes to promote tourism – an industry I feel adds something positive to the state – all the better.

Andrew Gmerek usually appears Saturdays, but is published today because of an e-mail glitch. He can be reached at agmerek@hotmail.com.

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