Don’t wager heavily on De Beque Hail Mary

The change from the go-fast days of the recent natural gas boom to today is nowhere more apparent than in De Beque. Where once there were proposals for new, energy-related developments seemingly every few weeks, now there is nothing.

In the words of Ryan Rose, “De Beque is a dying town.”

So, it’s understandable that Rose and others in the community are looking for innovative ways to jump-start the De Beque economy. But seeking to turn the town into the fourth casino-gambling town in Colorado is, we believe, a poor bet.

We hope De Beque folks are considering a back-up plan.

To use a football analogy on this important football day, Hail Mary passes rarely succeed and can just as easily result in a negative play for the team heaving the ball.

This is a Hail Mary pass primarily because of the unlikely possibility of casino gambling being approved for De Beque or any other community in this state.

As state Sen. Steve King noted last week, the owners of existing casinos in the gambling-approved towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek will no doubt do everything they can to persuade Coloradans to vote against an amendment to the state Constitution to allow gambling in De Beque.

That’s what occurred with a proposal for gambling in Parachute in 1992, and with several other efforts over the years to win approval for casinos in other small towns.

Despite those concerns, King is working with state Rep. Ray Scott on a possible measure in the Legislature to refer a measure to voters to allow gaming in De Beque.

The Daily Sentinel has long opposed efforts to expand casino gambling in Colorado, for a number of reasons.

First, gambling relies on the tendencies — in many cases, the addictions — of people who are often not in a position to spend money on gambling. It’s not universally true that those who visit such casinos are people on the lower rungs of the income scale, but large numbers of them are.

Additionally, a casino in De Beque would be primarily a means of funneling money from the Grand Valley to the casino owners. The casino might attract a few people from Utah and other parts of western Colorado, but it wouldn’t bring in much new money to this county. And it would transfer a great deal to whatever out-of-town company owned the casino.

A few businesses in the Grand Valley, The Daily Sentinel among them, might benefit greatly from the advertising a casino would bring. But we don’t believe that is reason to ignore the other problems.

We recognize that stimulating the economy in an isolated small town is no easy task. And we respect the fact that residents of De Beque are willing to consider ideas outside the norm. But they’d be better served developing their blocking and tackling skills — in other words, the fundamentals of economic developement.


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