Friday, October 24, 2003
State Sen. Jack Taylor said he is optimistic about the passage of Amendment 33, which would allow the placement of video lottery terminals in existing gaming establishments with a portion of the proceeds being used to fund tourism promotion.
"I do feel good about it," said Taylor, a Steamboat Springs Republican who turned in the petition putting Amendment 33 on the Nov. 4 ballot. "It's going to be a battle, and it still is a battle. But if people have a clear understanding about the law and want to establish a new law that says these video lottery terminals can't go in without a vote of the people, Amendment 33 is the way to do that."
Taylor said Amendment 33 would close an existing loophole that allows the Colorado Lottery Commission to introduce video lottery terminals or other games in convenience stores, bars, restaurants or other establishments. Amendment 33 would limit video lottery terminals to being installed only in the horse track in Aurora; dog racing tracks in Loveland, Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Commerce City; and in existing casinos.
"The proposal prohibits the operation of video lottery terminals at any other location," Taylor said. "If you have concerns about these devices going into the corner convenience store or bars or anyplace else without a vote of the people, Amendment 33 closes that loophole."
Todd Greco, a lottery spokesperson in Denver, said Taylor is correct, though the Lottery Commission had no plans to propose video lottery terminals.
"If it is a lottery game, our commission can implement new games without a vote of the people," Greco said. "But the lottery has never taken upon itself to introduce video lottery terminals and would not have done so in the foreseeable future."
Taylor noted that commissions change and no one can predict future plans.
"There is a political element here," Taylor said. "There would be pressure by the governor, for example, to prevent (video lottery terminals in convenience stores) from happening, but Bill Owens is not going to be governor foreve, and the current Lottery Commission is going to change."
Greco said the Lottery Commission has not introduced a new game since Perfecto in the late 1990s. He said the agency, which would oversee video lottery terminals, is prepared to follow the voters' decision on Amendment 33. "If the people want video lottery terminals, we will do it with the integrity and security measures of all games," he said.
Amendment 33 would allow up to 500 terminals at each gaming facility. Casinos are opposed to the terminals, which require a greater share of revenues to go to the state than existing casino games. If approved, the video lottery terminals are expected to generate $25 million in their first year for tourism promotion.