Duncan Craighead: Don’t add to problems
July 19, 2012
A gambling casino in Hayden? I grew up in Steamboat, and it may be a case of longing for the good old days that anyone feels for their old hometown, but this idea sounds like the worst that has come out of Routt County in a long time. I can't believe the county is so desperate for cash that residents could stoop this low to try to generate revenue.
Have you been to Blackhawk/Central City lately? The patrons of these casinos are hardly high-rollers — they are the elderly spending their Social Security checks and other folks who obviously don't have much in the way of excess funds to spend on hotels and dining out. As for the jobs? Low-paying. Add to that the drugs, crime and other issues that come along with a casino in the neighborhood, and bam! There you have it.
I feel for Steamboat and for Routt County. I was up there this past weekend, and there obviously are a lot of folks hurting. But blame that on people expecting a bubble to continue forever, over-building and over-extending themselves. Unfortunately in these times, for families under a tighter budget, the first thing to go is a $10,000 trip to Steamboat for the week. Don't kid yourselves; this economy is going to be with us for a long time. It never may return to what we enjoyed the past 20 years or so. Don't add to the problems the county faces with a knee-jerk decision to put a gambling casino in one the most beautiful parts of our state.
If you want to project "tacky" and "low-rent," go for it, but I don't think that's the crowd you want to attract. Trust me, anybody with money to spend and an itch to gamble goes to Vegas. It's cheap to get there and there's a lot more to do besides the tables and slot machines. People are not going to come to Steamboat to gamble by the airport. Nor are most of the folks who fly in to enjoy great skiing and the great outdoors. Reject this moronic idea. Get creative and figure out a way to remind people of the reasons why they came to Steamboat in the first place, which, in my day, were the people and the Champagne powder, the awesome scenery and the wholesome small-town feeling that they don't get in Los Angeles, Chicago or New York.