Coloradans for Better Schools' ballot proposal wants to expand gaming to pay for schools

DENVER - A group that wants to add casino gaming at Arapahoe Park horse racetrack in Aurora, and at two horse racing tracks in Pueblo and Mesa counties, turned in signatures Monday to put the issue on the November ballot.

Right now, casino gaming is only allowed in Blackhawk, Central City, Cripple Creek and Indian casinos in southwestern Colorado.

Coloradans for Better Schools said it has collected 136,342 signatures for their petition. The state requires 86,105 signatures for a ballot initiative.

Supporters said under the ballot initiative, more than $100 million dollars will be generated annually for Colorado K-12 public and charter schools by permitting expanded gaming at Arapahoe Park horse racetrack in Aurora.

The initiative also allows for casino gaming at horse racetracks in Pueblo and Mesa counties.

"The three eligible horse racetracks will be allowed to host the same types of gaming currently offered in Colorado’s existing casinos, including slot machines, blackjack, poker, craps and roulette," according to the website for Coloradans for Better Schools.

Organizers stress the plans will create extra funding for schools without raising taxes.

However, a group against the plan, Don't Turn Racetracks Into Casinos, says the people behind the ballot initiative are asking for exclusive rights to open a mega-casino in Arapahoe County.

"A single, financially troubled Rhode Island casino operator wants to write itself a sweetheart deal in the Colorado Constitution. But you can’t dress up a Rhode Island bailout plan to look like help for Colorado’s schools. This initiative isn’t about public schools. Not a single one of Colorado’s 178 school districts have come out in support of this scheme. They paid to have signatures gathered because Colorado’s 36,000 teachers don’t support them. That’s because a plan to build mega-casinos to help one Rhode Island Company isn’t a plan for our public schools. It’s a great deal for Rhode Island and a bad deal for Colorado," said Michele Ames, spokesperson for Don't Turn Racetracks Into Casinos.

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