Tony Counts: Casino idea is good

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If you’ve lived here since August 2000, you know me. If you’ve watched a Pirate Theater show, you’ve seen me. If you like hip-hop and have wandered into a Kat-N-Tha-Hat show, you’ve heard me.

If you’re a parent or student who has been involved in Steamboat’s Battle of The Bands, soaked at Strawberry Park Hot Springs, played tennis or coed soccer, sold or bought real estate, or recently spoke to Leadership Steamboat, our paths have crossed. My point is that I’ve been here 12 years, a city kid who fell in love with the view once I got over Rabbit Ears Pass. I knew I was staying after attending a Maceo Parker concert on the mountain, tasted my first Alpenglow beer and was offered a job teaching youths to snowboard. I found a rental on Après Ski Way and a roommate. Good things happen in Steamboat because there are great people in Steamboat Springs.

The individuals who would like to build a casino here are good people. I imagine the individuals against the idea of a casino are good people, too. I have a feeling they are established and comfortable but at one point might have worked more than one job at a time to stay here.

Times have changed. So someone, anyone, explain how any increase in job opportunities, or tourist dollars, does not greatly assist a resort ski community with a level of dependence on the tourist dollar? I would like an explanation about the phrase “those type of people that casinos attract.” I’ve heard that phrase before, and it never sounds good. Steamboat residents in particular: How does a casino in Hayden have a negative effect in Steamboat, culturally, visually or ethically? It is not “our” casino, it is “a” casino — one that will increase that “pillow count” that is a very important number to our local businesses during the slow tourist season, a.k.a. “mud season.” We added a season to explain why businesses close for a month or locals take monthlong sabbaticals.

I love this city, county, state and everyone I have met since relocating. I want my son to graduate from Steamboat Springs High School. I plan to provide for my family and to make sure my friends and relatives have every opportunity to experience the Steamboat lifestyle, whether that is soaking at the pool, having a great meal, shopping, tubing the Yampa, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, horseback riding or golfing. A casino can and will add to the incredible mystique of this dog town with a ski problem. 

I’m not a gambler. But to conclude and pull it all together, I share this: When asked to attend a conference in Denver, I drove from Steamboat to the conference, where I was then informed that the meet-and-greet event was in Blackhawk. We went back up the mountain in a tour bus and stopped at a casino. I sat at the poker table. Five hours later — yes, the house seems to win most of the time — and I had engaged in wonderful conversation with people I didn’t know, ranging in age from 27 to 64. I watched a Nuggets game on TV, experienced the thrill of hitting back-to-back four-of-a-kinds, nines and jacks. I do not have some unfulfilled desire or urge to immediately return to the casino. But I had a wonderful time, and I will do it again. And I would love to drive just 35 minutes to experience that feeling, especially with my locals.

Let’s support this project and the opportunities it presents.

Tony Counts

Steamboat Springs

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