Casinos in Colorado Call For Local Votes On Horse Track Proposals

The Colorado casino industry has formulated eight proposals calling for local votes and preventing gaming monopolies.

Colorado casinos have introduced eight proposals to counter Arapahoe Park’s six ballot measures that would allow the horse track to host as many as 2,500 slot machines or computerized terminals. Four of the casino proposals require local voters to approve gaming at the horse track. The remaining four prevent companies from pursuing gaming monopolies in any one community.

“If Arapahoe Park were to get a casino license and have a five-year monopoly on a casino, obviously that eliminates the equal playing field that our industry has enjoyed for over 22 years,” Lois Rice said. Rice is the Colorado Gaming Association’s executive director.

Spokesperson for the horse track’s latest requests, Monica McCafferty, said Coloradans for Better Schools are watching the casino industry’s proposals. The horse track’s ballot measures allow for a one-time payment, along with annual monies, however, in recent proposals, the track eliminates the one-time payment of $10 million and calls for negotiation with local communities on impact fees. As for public school funding, the measures stipulate 34 to 37 percent of proceeds will go for funding.

Meanwhile, in an effort to provide jobs, Kiowa County in Colorado is pushing to get on the November ballot, which would call for one or two casinos. The measure would be placed on the ballot via a citizen proposal or constitutional amendment.

If it reaches the ballot, Colorado voters would authorize casino gaming. A survey in Kiowa County showed 55 percent out of 961 registered voters with 484 weighing in, support gaming.

Eads in Kiowa County was once known for its oil and gas industries. Both have dried up and the county is looking at new economic development opportunities in casino gaming. Several mountain communities were approved for casino gaming in the 1990s as the state looked for ways to bring mining towns back to life.