Proponents touted Amendment 68 as a measure to expand education funding in Colorado. In reality, it was a $35 million fight between casinos in two different states.
That may explain why not one Colorado school district came out in support of the measure, which backers claimed would establish a kindergarten through twelfth-grade education fund, financed through revenues generated by the expansion of limited gaming at horse racetracks in Aurora’s Arapahoe Park, as well as others in Mesa and Pueblo counties.
The amendment failed by a margin of 69 percent to 30 percent, with 81 percent of precincts reporting — a sign, perhaps, that voters have grown weary of political gambling between moneyed players.
One side believed that if it threw enough dollars at the measure and say it would help the children, it’s in; the other was simply defending its gaming territory with its favorite currency, and a lot of it. Education seemed to have no place in this battle.One only has to follow the money. The pro-68 campaign, which called itself Coloradans for Better Schools, had one major contributor: Mile High USA, Inc., the company that operates the Arapahoe Park Horse racetrack. A subsidiary of Rhode Island-based Twin River Casino, Mile High poured more than $19 million into the losing campaign.
On the opposition side, the PAC Don’t Turn Racetracks Into Casinos, raised more than $16 million — all donations from Colorado casinos such as Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa Black Hawk ($5.1 million); Isle Of Capri Casinos, Inc. ($4 million); Jacobs Entertainment ($3.3 million); Monarch Casino & Resort ($1.8 million); and Affinity Gaming Black Hawk ($1.2 million).
Proposition 68 may still benefit Colorado students — a vital lesson in ulterior motives, campaign funding and territory disputes.