A gamble worth taking | PostIndependent.com

A gamble worth taking

Any efforts to loosen regulations on gambling typically stir the emotions of the public.

A proposed ballot initiative that would allow video lottery terminals in Colorado’s horse and dog tracks is no different. And that’s how it should be.

All issues related to gambling should be scrutinized. There is no denying the effect gaming has on communities – both good and bad.

Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, one of the key proponents of the measure, says that while the proposed initiative involves gaming machines, the goal is to generate dollars for tourism promotion. Glenwood Springs and other towns with tourist-based economies could benefit greatly from a bolstered budget for tourism promotion, and the cost is minimal.

State Treasurer Mike Coffman told the Rocky Mountain News, “Video lottery terminals are nothing but slot machines that will flood into Colorado under this ballot initiative.”

This is a slight exaggeration.

Lawmakers should be careful not to let it turn into a “flood,” but the current initiative allows terminals only in locations that already allow gambling – a horse track in Aurora and greyhound tracks in Loveland, Commerce City, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

There will be no terminals in gas stations, corner stores or restaurants frequented by children or adults who don’t want to be around gambling.

And the payoff is significant.

Proponents estimate the terminals could generate $109 million each year, with $66.5 million going to the state. The Conservation Trust Fund for open space and green belts would receive just under $20 million, state parks would receive $4.9 million and the Colorado Tourism Promotion Fund stands to receive $24.7 million.

Glenwood Springs would benefit from all three areas funded.

Gambling isn’t the ideal way to generate funds, but, in light of the current Colorado State Budget, sacrifices must be made for the tourism dollars, and the initiative is worth a spot on the November ballot.

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