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This payoff is too cheap

Don Rogers

Colorado does need to support its No. 2 industry – tourism – through marketing dollars much better than it does now. But the price for Amendment 33 is just too high.

Never mind that a racetrack company under indictment in another state wants to write itself into Colorado’s constitution for the sake of dubious gambling machinery. The “bribe” to the people of Colorado in the form of a promised “up to” $25 million annually for state tourism funding is too cheap to overlook what this Trojan Horse of an amendment brings.Our state government can and must do better than that.

Dollars for tourism have a direct link to improving Colorado’s bottom line through the promotion of one of the state’s top money makers. Surely the Legislature beat a payoff capped at $25 million – chicken feed – for giving Wembly PLC, a British gaming company, a monopoly in new gaming machines for the next 15 years.



A Machiavellian attitude toward gamblers paying for the noble cause of tourism is understandable, if frankly morally questionable. But why give Wembly the farm for a paltry $25 million? Why not send the state’s leaders back to the drawing board to invest in a sound revenue stream that will pay for itself many times over?

Much smaller Hawaii, for example, invests $77 million a year in tourism promotion. Colorado needs a mechanism that does better than capping out at $25 million.

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The constitutional amendment would allow Wembly to set up video slot machines at the five racetracks in Colorado – four of which are owned by Wembly – and limit the machines to those locations where gambling already is permitted.

Colorado voters put the state in its current fix by ending the state tourism tax in 1992. The state now ranks 22nd in tourism promotion and is estimated to be losing a couple of billion in tourism spending each year as result. Talk about short-sighted.

The impulse to infuse the state with marketing dollars is good. But this is about as bad a means as could be found.


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