What Are the Odds I'm Going to Vote for This? Colorado 2008 Amendment 50
Currently, the Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek allow slots, blackjack, and poker. The maximum bet on anything is $5. And the casinos must close between 2:00 AM and 8:00 AM.
Under Amendment 50, the casinos in those three towns (with the approval of the local voters) would be allowed to stay open all night, add roulette and craps, and up the maximum bet to $100.
They have another big ask, which has not been so well advertised: Currently the gaming tax is 20%, but the gaming commission has the right to up that to 40%. But if this measure passes they would require a statewide for any such increase.
For comparison, the gaming tax in Nevada is 6.75%, in Atlantic City is 9.25%, in Mississippi is 24%, and in Pennsylvania is 55%.
So what would we get in exchange for turning our "family-friendly" $5 bet casinos into all-night, high-stakes joints with even more ways to lose your money, and for protecting the casinos from the threat of paying higher taxes?
First of all, the gaming commission has to figure out what portion of the gaming tax revenues are attributable to this new rule. I guess that means casinos have to separately track all bets between 2:00 and 8:00 AM, all bets on roulette and craps, and all bets over $5. (I'm wondering if the casinos suporting this issue are budgeting for this new expense.) This money would not be subject to the TABOR limits that restrict increases to tax revenue.
Then the amount of gaming tax that exceed the revenue from fiscal year 2007 would be deposited into a special fund, and distributed 22% to the local governments of those three towns (based on how much increased revenue they brought in because of this new law) and 78% to community colleges in the state. Of course, that is dependent on the amount of tax revenue actually going up.
So, to summarize, we turn these three towns into high-stakes gambling destinations, destroying what little historical character they have left. We protect the casinos from a potential doubling of the casino tax. We give the local governments a bribe to encourage them to make these changes. And if there is any money left over (remember, we're in a recession, and who knows how many people will be willing to bet $100 at a clip) it can be used to support community colleges. That would be instead of actually funding them at a responsible level.
Vote NO on Amendment 50.