Steve Hofman and Johnny Spillane: Draw own conclusions

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Friday’s Steamboat Today ran a story, “Group opposes casino,” quoting briefly from a statement we provided the newspaper. We thought it appropriate to give readers the full text of what we said:

“So far our outreach to the community gives us no reason to believe that the effort by Mr. Cousins represents little more than a minority of voices throughout the valley.

The Sleeping Giant Group’s viewpoint has been informed by over 60 meetings with community leaders across the valley; two of several planned community conversations, one in Hayden and one in Steamboat Springs; a website soliciting comments and questions that has had over 850 visitors; and this week’s poll on

SteamboatToday.com in which over 1,400 votes have been cast. The evidence to date points to a community interested in this project, what it has to offer, supportive in concept, looking to learn more in the weeks and months ahead, and ready to input into its development.

We respect and understand that people, including Mr. Cousins and others, will have differing viewpoints about this project. That is the American way and the way of this valley. It is not our mission to change heart-felt opinions. Our goal is to have an informed conversation. We will continue to engage the community and do our best to answer questions, use their input to make this project a success and make clear the reality of the opportunity offered by this project for a wide range of residents and for the valley’s economic future.

We encourage all residents to go to our website, www.sleepinggiantgroup.com, take a look at the studies and information posted, share your comments and questions with us, and draw your own conclusions.”

Steve Hofman and Johnny Spillane

Partners, Sleeping Giant Group

Comments

Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 4 months ago

Funny, the research cited on sleepinggiantgroup.com seems to be biased in favor of a casino, listing several upsides but failing utterly to even consider the possibility that there could be any downside:

"Four years after a casino opens, bankruptcy rates, violent crime, and auto thefts and larceny are up 10 percent in counties with a casino. Bankruptcies also increase in counties within 50 miles of a casino."

http://www.nber.org/papers/w9198.pdf

"the extreme upper bound on social benefits of a new casino is $75 per adult, that the costs associated with problem or pathological gamblers are $140-$221 per adult"

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/000622304.pdf?abstractid=233792&mirid=1

While there is apparently an upside, the assumption made is that Indian casinos are opened on actual reservations. Looking further into assumptions being made here, we find:

"So if the overwhelming majority of Native Americans like Hollow Horn aren't benefiting from the Indian casino boom, who is? In many cases, the big winners are non-Indian investors, some of whom pocket more than 40% of an Indian casino's profits. Actually, calling these people investors understates their role. They often serve as master strategists who draw up the plans and then underwrite the total cost of bringing a casino online: ferreting out an amenable tribe, paying a signing bonus, picking up tribal expenses and paying the salaries of the tribe's officials, all of this before a spade of dirt is turned."

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1003869,00.html

Which begs the question, who's the silent partner in this venture, and why is this partner silent?

"A Nevada judge in 2011 found Rotate Black and its officers, John Paulsen and Dual Cooper, 'guilty of oppressive fraud or malicious conduct,' ordering them to pay Nevada investors $9.7 million over a failed casino venture there. Rotate Black has appealed, and denies any wrongdoing.

Company Chairman Paulsen also has pledged future earnings from the proposed Gulfport casino to pay off some of the $25.7 million in personal liabilities listed in a bankruptcy he filed in June 2011 in his home state of Michigan. Paulsen blames his bankruptcy on other failed business deals that resulted in court judgments against him and on the economic downturn."

http://www.sunherald.com/2012/08/15/4128974/rotate-black-leaves-trail-of-failed.html#storylink=rss

I'm not saying these folks are involved, just an example of why I think the community has a right to know.

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 4 months ago

Another potential, yet rarely mentioned, downside is corruption, which for some reason happens even with the involvement of high-profile athletes in a project:

"Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley and two of his lobbyists have pleaded guilty to offering legislators millions in bribes.

Country Crossing and another Alabama casino are at the center of a probe that resulted in nine people going to trial accused of buying and selling votes on pro-gambling legislation, including four former or current state senators."

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=6673292

So, can we all please slow down this jumping on the casino bandwagon until the downsides are properly considered, and in particular, we have disclosure on just who's really behind Sleeping Giant Group? What's John Bushby's (Melbourne, Australia lawyer) interest, for example?

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 4 months ago

Just how many Indian casinos are viable in NW CO, anyway? I didn't realize there's another proposal for Dinosaur:

Time to update the FAQ, I guess:

http://sleepinggiantgroup.com/frequently-asked-questions-about-sleeping-giant-casino/#faq20

How can they be so certain we'll only have one casino, when there exist plans for two already?

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Jon Quinn 2 years, 4 months ago

The poll regarding the casino has received 1668 votes, almost twice the total number the next most active Steamboat Today poll in history. This number is not just unusual, but it strikes me as statistically inconceivable. I think that the Pilot ought to take a hard look at the results and should tighten up the system if it is prone to abuse. If the polls can be skewed by a few savvy and unscrupulous users, then the polls should be abandoned.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

Jon Quinn, As if the SB Pilot poll has ever claimed to have any relevance. Complaining about the accuracy of a SB Pilot poll is like saying your Magic 8 Ball gives uninformed answers to the questions you ask. t was never designed or intended to be accurate. It is just supposed to be a bit of fun.

Seems to me that No Casino folks have laid down the gauntlet with their online petition that puts names to those opposed. Over 300 signers so far that are mostly locals with real names. That is far more credible than yes casino folks citing a poll which allows repeat anonymous voting or visits to their website. I think most of the no casinos folks have visited the sleepinggiant website.

If the casino proponents wish to claim they have community support then they should also create an online petition and see whom is willing to sign.

I would also suggest that the yes casino folks bring forward the Indian tribe seeking to operate the casino and on what terms with the developers.

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 4 months ago

I forget who posted this in another thread here, but thanks!

http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/97/03/Chapt9.html

I think there are very real concerns here, which can't be overcome with handwaving about baseless assertions, or resorting to the results of the least-reliable form of polling ever devised. Reminds me of when we "voted" against "New Stockbridge."

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rhys jones 2 years, 4 months ago

We didn't vote AGAINST New Stockbridge -- we voted FOR James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge, in sufficient numbers that it stuck. New Stockbridge was hardly appropriate, since livestock is no longer transported by rail (out of here anyway) and that demonstrated little imagination. Every bridge in Routt probably sees more livestock than that one.

This town has consistently shown in recent votes that the Silent Majority here is Liberal. I will cite the James Brown Bridge, MMJ, and our preference in the last Presidential election as prime examples. We have a youthful, open-minded population here, and nowhere is that evidenced more than at the polls.

I guess it's just human nature, how the minority viewpoint always squawks the loudest.

I'm up for a vote, myself.

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David Moore 2 years, 4 months ago

I am from Craig, and I do not speak for anyone here but myself, my opinions are mine. I am a 44 year resident of this valley and in my rooted opinion, a casino is the last thing you would expect to find in this vast playground of outdoor activities, it just does not fit in. The proposed casino in Dinosaur I can support because in the middle of nowhere is where they belong in the first place, look at Vegas, a huge city...in the middle of a wasteland. A casino smack dab in the middle of this beautiful area would in my opinion be a black eye, a contusion and an eyesore not necessary. Maybe this group should explore and go with the one being considered in the outback of Moffat County, I am sure they would welcome it, I personally do not support it in the proposed location. Sin city is right where it is supposed to be, lets not bring that sort of atmosphere to our beautiful valley, our home. My vote is no, nothing anyone says will ever change that.

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 4 months ago

"in sufficient numbers that it stuck"

Ummm, xeroxed ballots were accepted, meaning the total number of votes far exceeded the number of voters, as in no more reliable than a web-forum poll. I thought about running up the "no" votes in the Pilot poll, since it would be so easy, but this Homey don't play that. The point is, I could.

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