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September 13, 2008 11:24 PM

Low roller rolls into town ahead of gaming measure

Last week, as many ballot amendment proponents and opponents came through our editorial board, a private citizen and local attorney named Jon Anderson showed up to voice his opposition to Amendment 50, which would: 1) allowing cities to raise limits on gaming to $100 bets, 2) allow the extension of casino hours (all-nighters, baby!), and 3) allow roulette and craps. Coming from California, aka Land of Much Fruitful Indian Gaming, I decided to drop the top and head up to Black Hawk on our sunny Saturday in the name of Amendment 50 research. And in the name of penny slots.

Anderson brought up during the meeting that Black Hawk gaming had exploded beyond the intended preservation of historic buildings, like above, into the "new" Black Hawk area, when you first drive into town, with larger, modern casinos such as the Riviera, and whatever this monstrosity under construction is:

blackhawk2.jpgHonestly, I'm not sure folks should be too concerned about future casino expansion there, because there seems to be no room left. They'd have to start blasting away mountainsides. But, of course, this doesn't mean that gaming wouldn't boom in other areas once casinos are lured in by higher betting limits. Voters have to decide for themselves if this is a good or bad thing. Heaven knows communities get revenue. And we've seen how gaming has helped tribes attain more than self-sufficiency.

My theory on Indian gaming, by the way, is: The U.S. government treated the Indians like dirt, gave them the worst parcels of land in the country and the concession of sovereignty. Tribes eventually use that sovereignty to grow mega-casinos. Tribes have the last laugh. Enough said. But with that sovereignty came the overriding of California's strict anti-smoking laws: whenever in Indian casinos there, the smoke was so bothersome I'd be relegated to the non-smoking room that had like one video poker machine. At least Black Hawk was smoke-free, except for the cluster outside the front door of each casino, puffing away.

All in all, I lost eight dollars. Turns out the penny slot doesn't exactly cost a penny, when you can bet up to 25 lines. At one point I won 200 pennies, which sounds juicier than $2, but I kept on playing. I'm just not a very good casino customer, because I get bummed and bored after the loss of a few dollars. OK, OK, it's because I knew that Colorado Mills was just down the hill, and I had to get to the sure-bet sales. Pairs of Seven jeans found for $40? All sweaters marked down to ten bucks at Eddie Bauer? One pair of cold-weather booties left on clearance in exactly my size? That's the jackpot, baby.


  • September 14, 2008

    8:44 AM

    woodwose writes:

    Personally, if someone wants to throw their money away at a casino, I don't care how fast or what time of day or night they do it. So I think the casinos (and towns they are in) should be allowed to decide how they want to do business. Sure, if they are open 24 hours, there's going to be drunks coming down that road out of the mountain at all hours. But there will also be more jobs for people working the casinos.

    There's always tradeoffs.

    But the one objection I have about this whole thing is that you have governments slobbering all over themselves to get this thing passed. If there's a nickel of anticipated extra revenue in it for them to spend, they are all for it. And I don't think government should be in the business of promoting, running, or profiting from gambling activities.

  • September 14, 2008

    11:05 AM

    roy cantrell writes:

    If I want a Las Vegas type casino, I would go to Las Vegas (or I guess Kansas if the proposal goes through for 2011). I sure don't want it in Black Hawk or Central City. No problem in upping limits to $10 or changing hours if the casinos and the locals agree to these changes

  • September 14, 2008

    4:36 PM

    Ronlitt writes:

    Bridget, yours is a disappointing take on this. At least Woodwose begins to touch on the whole (gasp!) moral question of gambling, and whether we want to see government become even more of a vice-enabler.

    By the way, does anyone see the irony of the Government 'granting' the Indians (as reparations??) the somewhat exclusive right to own and run casinos. Like too many other commentators, Bridget doesn't see that the Great White Father can't do much more in this century than they allowed to happen in years past (trinkets, whiskey, depredation and now gambling.) I'd say we're batting a thousand.

    And no one seems to mind.

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