If, for just a moment, we can stop drooling over the possibilities of new jobs and tax revenues for Routt County, let’s think about what the proposed Sleeping Giant Casino in Hayden may bring. Also, let’s ignore the fact that gaming is a pernicious tax on the mathematically challenged.
I did think about it, recalling my experiences in Hawthorne, Nev., a small town very much like Hayden and its surroundings. Living there, I got to know the locals, many of whom worked in the town’s big casino, the El Capitan. Yes, they told me, the casino made money from tourists, as Hawthorne was a convenient stopover point between Reno and Las Vegas. But they also told me about a significant social cost. It seems they always could tell when families living on public assistance got paid. About every two weeks, they would arrive at the El Capitan parking lot, lock their kids in the car and enter the casino to cash their checks. After that, they would “enjoy the gaming experience” — I guess that’s how the Sleeping Giant group would put it — until: 1) they ran out of money, or 2) it was morning.
I doubt this aspect of casinos and their contribution to the host communities will make it into the Sleeping Giant Casino brochures.