Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steve Hofman and the other members of his Sleeping Giant Group might want to wander down to All That Jazz and pick up a copy of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”
The song’s chorus poetically expresses the meaning of the message Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia delivered on behalf of Gov. John Hickenlooper to Hofman, his partners and any Indian tribe seeking to build an off-reservation Indian casino anywhere in Colorado.
“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”
Keep the chorus in mind as you review the following statements Garcia made to Steamboat Today reporter Matt Stensland in a telephone interview after Garcia’s meeting with Hofman in Denver on Tuesday.
“We thought it would be fair to those tribes and those business interests that were talking about it … if we give them some advance notification of where we are so they could keep that in mind as they are investing money into studies and finding partners and looking at locations. We thought it would be in their best interest if we let them know ahead of time how we felt.”
“Right now, we don’t see that Coloradans in general are supportive of more gaming, and we do not see — based on the casinos that are in existence now — that it is likely that a new casino operation, wherever it was located in Colorado, would be terribly successful.”
“As we said to Steve, given the timeline of these things, it’s entirely possible that a future governor might have to make this decision. All we could tell him was what this governor thought about this possibility, and this governor’s not supportive.”
Now add this definitive statement Garcia made to The Denver Post editorial board:
“The governor and I do not plan to support any proposed off-reservation gaming facility in Colorado at this time. We understand that parts of Colorado are trying to spur economic growth, but we believe creating an off-reservation gaming facility is not in the best interest of Colorado.”
Objectively, Sleeping Giant’s gamble on drawing an ace-high straight by winning Hickenlooper’s approval drew a busted straight instead, and now it’s time to fold ’em.
Subjectively, Hofman thinks there still is a hand to be played in spite of the reality that Hickenlooper stands an excellent chance of remaining governor for the next six years, and that Garcia could follow Hickenlooper. Evidently, Hofman is willing to push all of Sleeping Giant’s chips to the center of the table on his belief that Hickenlooper is like every other politician and can be persuaded to change his mind if the citizens of the Yampa Valley rise up in unified opposition against unspecified Front Range powers that Hofman believes have Hickenlooper’s ear.
Perhaps Hofman is correct. More likely, he should pay heed to the words of the gambler:
“He said, ‘Son, I’ve made my life out of readin’ people’s faces,
And knowin’ what their cards were by the way they held their eyes.
So if you don’t mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces.
For a taste of your whiskey I’ll give you some advice.’”
It’s a safe bet that dying gambler would advise Hofman and Sleeping Giant that as long as Hickenlooper and Garcia sit atop the state, “the dealin’s done.”
Since 1998, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.