When the Indian casino proposal was announced last March, the first thing that came to mind was the closing episode of “Godfather.” Recall that the Corleone family moved its gambling and other “enterprises” to Las Vegas. The point? Think about it.
The second thought was the land purchase announced in March 2007 by 700 LLC and the similar ensuing economic hype used to make it sound more palatable to the public.
News accounts seem to focus on the mechanics of approvals and the perceived economic benefits that the casino would bring to the communities of Northwest Colorado. An optimistic economic study (paid for by the proponents) elaborates on increasing visitor numbers, jobs for locals and business in general.
What hasn’t received much attention is the downside of casinos. The internet, however, abounds with accounts on what happens in a 50-mile or so radius of an Indian-owned casino. There is much on development of addictive gamblers, particularly among those of lower income: increased suicide rate, bankruptcy, drug activity, fraud, bad checks, etc., anything to get money to feed the compulsion to gamble.
Indian casinos pay no property taxes, but usually make donations in lieu of taxes. According to Internet accounts, in-lieu payments do not begin to cover the costs to taxpayers.
Another major downside then is the cost to government. Law enforcement, prosecution and incarceration for crimes caused by gamblers do not come cheap for justice systems.
A common myth is that if one loses for a long enough period, the laws of chance will bring on a big win. Statistics rarely work that way. If a win does occur it soon is lost in the ensuing euphoria. One website concluded with the statement that gambling spreads the wealth around — from the pockets of the poor to the pockets of the wealthy.
Contact your federal congressional representatives to apply pressure on Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, when he vets the casino application, to recommend against it to Gov. John Hickenlooper. Salazar’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Omar M. Campbell