Prop 68 – gaming in Aurora – let’s talk about it, shall we?

*** update below that – Oct 15th – no hints

*** update at bottom – Sept 26th.  Hint – More bullshit!  🙂

Let’s get this straight. I don’t really a give a shit about Prop 68. I don’t feel it has any bearing on my life one way or the other. I don’t gamble much, because (like you) I am terrible at it. However, I am being bombarded by these commercials and it’s driving me nuts.  So, for you, I decided to poke around a bit.

I have a general policy about amendments, and it seriously absolutely works. The side that has the most and nicest commercials is the side I am against. Why? It is the side with the most money. The side with the most money is rarely, if not NEVER, the side of the proletariat (that’s fancy speak for you and I).

I did some research, and it supports what I anecdotally suspected (as it almost always does… hence the site name and slogan); the anti 68 side is spending 3 to 1 against the pro side. Should I back up? Prop 68 is a statewide measure to allow large scale gaming at the Arapahoe racetrack. Currently, there is no ‘table’ gambling in the metro Denver area. Normally, I would hyperlink something right about here, allowing you to verify what I am telling you. I am not doing that now, because everything I found is super biased one way or the other. I am going to give you my take. I don’t/won’t even pretend to be fair, or even handed.  Let’s take a look, and please tell me if I am seeing this wrong. I may be.

The pro side says you should support it because they are going to give a cut to education**** for Aurora. How much? I can’t find a straight answer… big surprise. They say things like ‘as much as 100 million’. Well, next year I could conceivably make $100,000. I wouldn’t bet on it, though. Get it? What I would like to see is concrete numbers – like 5% of gross revenues will go into the education tax base for Aurora public schools. Again, no such concrete numbers are being shared as of yet. However, I did find this gem.

Additionally, Arapahoe Park horse racetrack will pay an initial one-time fee of $25 million directly to the new K-12 Education Fund established under the measure to ensure schools begin receiving benefits as soon as possible.

Holy shit. They are willing to cut a 25 million dollar check up front? That scares me. That clearly means that 25 million is just nothing money to these guys. Now, that quote and data above are admittedly from the official prop 68 site… but I verified that figure elsewhere. So, this single casino is going to make so much fucking money that they are willing to cut a check on day one for 25 million. I don’t like that at all. To me, that means they likely will make about 100 million a year forever. You would have to to be able to afford to cut 25 million as a goodwill gesture.   Point goes to the opposition on this one.

Now the opposition I just don’t like at all. Let’s look at the entirety of their bullet points

Yeah, that is pretty much it.

** update far below.  They are finally changing tact on message… a bit.  10/15/14

Now let’s look at who is behind the money here. The ‘no’ side is a 93 million dollar lobby paid for entirely by the Blawkhawk and Cripple Creek casinos.

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Don’t Turn Racetracks into Casinos $9,143,379.00 $7,382,457.87
Total $9,143,379.00 $7,382,457.87

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa Black Hawk $2,822,790.00
Isle Of Capri Casinos, Inc. $2,204,818.00
Jacobs Entertainment $1,813,961.00
Affinity Gaming Black Hawk $1,048,241.00
Monarch Casino & Resort

Let’s look at each claim independently.

“A sweetheart deal for Rhode Island”. That is in reference to the parent company who will own this being based in Rhode Island. This is absolutely true. The parent company is called ‘Twin River WorldWide Holdings’. The opposition’s point is by doing this all, your money is being flushed out of state. What dicks, right? What, do you hate Colorado?  Is that why you want to send your hard earned dollars out of state?  NO. Because – I researched all the large Blackhawk Casino’s funding this. NOT A SINGLE ONE is based in Colorado. Most are from Nevada, and a few are based out of Missouri. So, no matter what, if you are gaming in Colorado your money is leaving the state.

“without local community approval”. Man, this one really pisses me off. First off, they had to gather probably 10,000 local signatures* for this issue. Then, it goes to a vote in November. To me, a VOTE is the definition of ‘local community approval’. It’s the goddamn foundation of democracy.  * ed:  it was 86,000 they collected.

The ‘no’ side is being disingenuous. Here is the part that confuses me. The real issue at the heart of the ‘no’ side is the Blackhawk casinos. The issue is if you allow gaming in metro Denver, no one will bother to go to the mountains to do so. That is probably true. This prop could devastate Blackhawk, costing them critical jobs and infrastructure tax money. What confuses me is this is the one true issue… and NO ONE IS GIVING THAT ARGUMENT.  Why not?  If this were my beef, I would show Blackhawk folks getting evicted from their houses, and drinking beer out of paper bag covered bottles. I would say “Prop 68 would kill Blackhawk and Cripple Creek, and thousands of jobs in the process!  That’s not good for Colorado, and it’s not fair to you”. That is how I would present it, because that is absolutely a legitimate concern. But they aren’t saying it, which is weird and makes me trust them even less.  Basically, Nevada is saying “Hey, dummy.  Don’t give all your money to Rhode Island, those guys are total hessian d-bags.  Give it to us, the state of Nevada.  Seriously, we are pretty sure they are all a bunch of pedos, too.

What is my final take and opinion? I am going to vote for it. Like I proved before, ALL your gaming money is leaving the state to support the out of state parent companies… whether this passes or not. However, this has the added bonus of creating jobs and funding and a tax base for Aurora. Yes, it screws Blackhawk. However, Blackhawk is 2 hours away from me. So, I would rather they be homeless and breaking into cars than the people of Aurora, who is 10 minutes from me. Make sense?  Who am I more likely to get robbed by?

**** The education angle; I love it. Let’s face it, Aurora is by and large a shithole. When wifey and I were moving to Colorado from Northern AZ in 1997, the only advice I constantly got was ‘don’t move to Aurora’. I don’t even drive through Aurora if I can help it. Last time I was there in the middle of a week day, there were hundreds of people walking around… everywhere. I thought “is no one in school? Is no one working?” Yes, that is a sweeping generalization, but one that is honestly my experience and first hand observation. Plus, if you read here often, you know that ‘sweeping generalizations‘ is kinda my thing. So, the idea that thousands of (metro) Denver citizens will unwittingly spend all their money to better Aurora’s schools benefits everyone… this tickles me greatly.  Good touch.

**** The education angle, revisited; Wifey and I do not have kids, nor do we intend to. So, why would we be concerned about schools getting more money? In fact, shouldn’t I be against school spending? NO.   I will NEVER vote down an education money request. You want your kids to have great schools, for SO many reasons. First off, if they are in school, they aren’t out breaking in to your car. With a better education, they can make more money as grownups, to help pay for bridges and roads and such. Things we all benefit from. Plus, when we are too old to work in or contribute financially to society… the next generation has to take care of us. It will be their paycheck taxes that will fund our social security. Yes, I want all subsequent generations to be rich and educated and successful. It’s truly selfish, and practical as well.

Do you know the analogy ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’? The question is, do you want to rob Blackhawk to save Aurora. Yes, I do. Plus, as I mentioned at the top, the ‘no’ side is spending 3 to 1 against what the ‘yes’ side is spending. I never trust the people with the most money. Ever.  If you disagree, and I strongly encourage you to leave your argument in the comments.

*** update 9/26/14

Man, this thing is heating up like crazy.  Roughly 50% of the commercials I see are about this issue.  I got a fancy glossy flier in the mail for the ‘pro’ side.  Remember, I fully admit at this time I am FOR the issue.  However, the ‘for’ or ‘yes’ is almost just as full of shit.  They said in the mailer that if the amendment passes it will bring “an additional 210 million into the Colorado economy every year and create 1,400 new, permanent jobs”.  Those are the words verbatim, and I challenge every single word.  It’s bullshit, and here is why.  That tax figure implies every penny will be magic brand new money that we weren’t seeing before.  That isn’t what is going to happen.  It is simply siphoning money from online gaming and the mountain casino communities (Blackhawk and Cripple Creek) and moving it to metro Denver.  Folks were going there to game, now they can just do it here in Denver.

I feel the issue is the same with the jobs.  This won’t so much create jobs as it will move them from the mountain communities to Aurora.  Odds are for each job gained here, it will equal a job lost in the mountains.

I want to re-iterate one big point of why I am FOR the bill.  The MAIN point of the ‘against’ lobby is a ‘sweetheart deal for Rhode Island, a bad deal for Colorado’.  Their point suggests that if you pass this, all of your hard earned gaming money will fly out of state.  This is true.  However, EVERY SINGLE ONE of the opposing funders (which are all the Blackhawk casinos) are headquarted out of state.  So, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR WHERE YOU GAME – your gaming money ends up out of state.

*** update 10/15/14

I pledged (both past, and future tense) to follow up on this.  This weekend, the Denver Post did a point /counter point on the issue.  I like that very much; it is old school proper journalism.  Again, I want to voice the concerns and opportunities of each side.

Here is one interesting thing I found in researching this piece over and over for you.  68 was the same number that California used several years ago to get gambling passed there.  Isn’t that weird?  Odds are, that is not a co-incidence.  In fact, millions were probably spent on marketers and focus groups to decide what number would be used.  I am dead serious when I make this point, this is not my usual overstated bullshit hyperbole 🙂

I have some updated numbers on the financials.  The ‘against’ side hasn’t changed their reporting or figures.  The ‘For’ side, though, has bumped their numbers up to 2.3 million.  While that doesn’t seem like much, keep in mind it means double.  Early polling is showing that the bill will likely lose to defeat.  Speaking of early polling, we all got our mail in ballots this week, so votes have already been cast… just not counted.   Meaning, I’ll seal my ballot tonight, so if you tell me something to sway my vote in a week… that is too late.  It’s gone.  Not sure how I feel about that since we are a month out from the election proper.  Oh well, at least I can go back voting nude and on psychedelics.

What is great about the Post piece is we have some more rational voices.  Not as impartial or truth speaking as myself… but at least they are ostensibly not paid stooges for the campaigns in question.  Let’s look at their points, a fair and fresh visit of the issue, if you will.

For: Colorado is one of the lowest states in the nation for educational spending.  I have independently verified this, and it is TERRIFYING.  You know how you make fun of Arkansas and Kentucky as illiterate hillbilly cousin fuckers?  You don’t?  I sure do. Well, they still are; however they spend more than we do per student.  That should sicken you.  So does South Carolina.  This is the state that STILL flies the ‘rebel’ flag (of black oppression).  Yes, those fucking racists value education more than we do in Colorado.  We spend less than Arizona, which is the senior citizen state.  Old people literally move to Arizona so they are not heavily taxed on schools.  Also, for health reasons.  I think it is honestly equal parts.  (editors note to self:  correction, Arizona is below Colorado in spending. Almost no one spends less than Arizona.  Big ups to my hometown for keeping it real)

That, in a nutshell, is the argument for.  It’s a solid one, and pretty much all I really care about.

As I have stated above, to be perfectly open and clear… I am FOR this initiative (for the reasons stated above).  However, the ‘no’ side makes some really compelling points about why this is bad idea jeans.  The first point from the Post piece is the one I wrote about first, and heroically, a month ago –

1) this will KILL the mountain communities.  I always knew this, and wondered why no one made a bigger stink about this.  The other two points, though, are new to me.

2) the taxpayers shoulder the burden of infrastructure for the casino: roads, freeway exits, stop lights, speed traps, etc.  This is a nominal concern, and one I think is easily worth the (potential) payback

3) the bill isn’t just about gaming (we call it gaming now, btw, no gambling.  Like how they did that?) it is about this specific company being written into the Colorado constitution.  No one else could open casinos.  If this company went under, no one could replace them.  This is a totally legit concern.  Imagine if your taxes, a $32,000 check you write each year, was made payable to Steve.  “Don’t worry, Steve will decide where to spend your money best.  Oh, and he hates the Broncos and Ozzy and Democrats.  Good luck with that, pussyboy.”  See my concern?  I agree with the ‘no’ folks; this is a big red flag.

4) nothing specifies where the money goes.  Again, this is a super valid concern.  Apparently, even the teachers union hasn’t backed this (which puzzles me).  Their point being, what if the money is mis-managed?  What if they spend 23 million on an indoor gymtorium indoor football field with high def LCD screens and luxury boxes in every high school…. but the kids are still reading textbooks that mention neither that Lincoln had Marfans, or that he was gay.  Both are true, look it up. The govt isn’t known to spend wisely.

5) your money leaves the state to enrich Rhode Island, not Colorado.  This point is 100% true, but a stupid non issue.  ALL of the current Colorado casinos (including the ones bankrolling the opposition) are based out of Colorado.  Ergo, this point is a shitty one, and a non issue syllogism-wise.

I want to clarify a point that I learned in the last couple of weeks, as well.  I was wrong about a key point of the issue. I had thought the initiative was only to fund Aurora schools.  Hence my correct rant above about what a horrible place Aurora is.  That is not the case.  The money will be spread across all of Colorado.

These are all valid reasons not to vote the measure.  If you vote ‘no’, I understand.  The bill is pretty fucked up on a lot of levels.  However, I remain on team ‘yes’.  It comes down to this:  the only way we will improve our lower than Arkansas school system is to trick people into emptying their pockets every time they pass the urban blight that is Aurora.  It seems disingenuous to trick and force people to spend money on their kids.  However, every time we try and do it legitimately, above board with complete disclosure… these issues get voted down.  So… yeah.  Let’s call it a dummy tax, or a math tax.  If you aren’t smart enough to understand you will leave the casino with less money than you entered… I am happy to siphon some off to education.

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4 thoughts on “Prop 68 – gaming in Aurora – let’s talk about it, shall we?

  1. You should double check your numbers, the Rhode Island Casino has raised and spent more money than the Black Hawk casinos as of the last public information available.

  2. absolutely hilarious and insightful article. Blackhawk is rightfully scared to death of a flatland casino so close to Denver Metro. If prop 68 does get passed I see them focusing on mountain scenery and tourism

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