Colorado Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education, Amendment 68 (2014)

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Amendment 68
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Colorado Constitution
Referred by:Citizens
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
2014 measures
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November 4
Amendment 67 Defeatedd
Amendment 68 Defeatedd
Proposition 104 Approveda
Proposition 105 Defeatedd
Full text
Local measures
A Colorado Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education, Amendment 68 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have established a kindergarten through twelfth grade education fund to provide additional revenue to address local educational needs. The fund would have been financed through additional revenues generated by the expansion of limited gaming at horse racetracks in the counties of Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo.[1] The allowed gaming would at least include slot machines, card games, roulette and craps.[2]

If it had been approved, the measure would have amended Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution by adding a new section to it.

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

Colorado Amendment 68
Defeatedd No1,419,09570.38%
Yes 597,239 29.62%

Election results via: Colorado Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot language appeared as:[3]


Constitutional changes

See also: Colorado Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education Amendment (2014), constitutional text changes

If approved, the measure would have amended Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution by adding a new section to it.


See also: Colorado state budget and finances & Public education in Colorado

Direct democracy history

Coloradans have exercised direct democracy on gambling issues 21 times and education 28 times in the state's history prior to Amendment 68.

While the earliest such votes on gambling occurred in the 1940s, the topic became a popular ballot issue starting in the 1970s. The heaviest year for gambling measures thus far in the state was 1992, which saw five measures related to gambling. Four of the measures would have allowed limited gaming in specific regions. While all of those measures were defeated, Referendum C was approved, which allowed for limited gaming in any town, city or county following a local vote on the matter.

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Policy and Elections
Budget policy was a major issue in Colorado. Find out more about Colorado Budget policy.

Racetrack gambling has been specifically addressed in some of Colorado's ballot measures. Voters rejected the legalization of horse and dog racing in 1940, but later approved such gambling in 1948. In 2003, an initiative to allow video lottery at specific horse and greyhound racetracks with some proceeds going towards tourism promotion and open spaces for parks and recreation was defeated with fewer than 20 percent of voters supporting it.

The last ballot measure to address gambling in Colorado prior to Amendment 68 was Referendum P in 2010. It would have transferred the licensing of games of chance from the Department of State to the Department of Revenue, but the measure was defeated.

Gambling & state revenue

Following the 1990 legalization of casinos in Colorado, the state's first casino was opened in 1991. As of 2013, Colorado had 41 operating casinos employing 9,278 people. Gambling revenues in Colorado are subject to a graduated tax with a maximum assessment of 20 percent. This came to a total of approximately $104.26 million from casinos in 2013. Gambling revenue taxes are not currently allocated specifically to kindergarten through high school education. Instead, they are allocated to local communities, historic preservation, community colleges, tourism promotion and the general fund.[5]

Colorado also has a state lottery, which has been operating since 1983. The lottery was made possible by a 1980 ballot measure, Referendum 2, which also required the net proceeds of the lottery to be put in the state's conservation trust fund.[6] In 2013, the lottery contributed $59.2 million to the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), $54.3 million to the Conservation Trust Fund, $13.6 million to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and $8.6 million to the Public School Construction Assistance (BEST Program).[7]


Coloradans for Better Schools logo.jpg



  • Coloradans For Better Schools, Inc.
  • Mile High USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Twin River Casino[8]


  • Vickie Armstrong, primary proponent
  • Bob Hagedorn, second proponent
  • John E. Taylor Jr., chairman of Twin River Casino[9]


Vickie Armstrong argued that the measure would provide new, needed funding for education in the state. Following the announcement of the initiative's signature submission, she said,

We know Coloradans care deeply about education, but there is little appetite for broad tax increases. This initiative will not raise taxes on taxpayers by even one penny.[4]

—Vickie Armstrong[2]

Coloradans for Better Schools provided the following arguments on the group's campaign website:

Under the Coloradans for Better Schools Initiative, more than $100 million dollars will be generated each year for Colorado K-12 schools simply by expanding gaming at Arapahoe Park horse racetrack. That amount is roughly equal to the annual sum of all payments made by Colorado’s 35-plus existing casinos. That is because the percentage of revenue from Arapahoe gaming that will go to benefit our schools will be more than double the average percentage existing casinos currently pay to their beneficiaries. [...]

[Expanded] gaming is restricted to no more than three horse racetracks that have had at least five continuous years of horse racing with wagering at the time they apply for an expanded gaming license. Specifically, the initiative permits expanded gaming at no more than one Class B horse racetrack in each of three Colorado counties – Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo. Using these strict qualifying criteria, the measure ensures that gaming does not expand beyond where it already exists. [...]

Racetrack visitation will drive more customers to local businesses and provide a boost for the economy. Wages from newly created jobs will also go to purchasing more goods and services in the community.[4]

—Coloradans for Better Schools[10]

Campaign contributions

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $19,317,594.29
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $16,260,634.10

The following campaign contribution totals for Coloradans for Better Schools, Inc. were current as of December 4, 2014. At the time of the latest report, the campaign had only had one major contributor: Mile High USA, Inc.[11] The company operates Arapahoe Park, a horse and greyhound racetrack in Aurora, Colorado. It is also a subsidiary of Twin River Casino.[12]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Coloradans For Better Schools, Inc. $19,317,594.29 $18,475,822.25
Total $19,317,594.29 $18,475,822.25

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
Mile High USA, Inc. $19,316,254.29
Dan Williams $500.00
Terrill Knight $200.00


CO Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos logo.JPG


  • Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos
  • Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB)[13]
  • Colorado PTA
  • Denver Public Schools
  • Gilpin County Schools
  • Colorado Community College's Board


A spokesperson for Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos, which was extensively funded by casino operators in the state, provided the following arguments against the measure:

This initiative isn't about public schools. said campaign group spokeswoman . Not a single one of Colorado's 178 school districts have come out in support of this scheme. [...] That's because a plan to build mega-casinos to help one Rhode Island company isn't a plan for our public schools.[4]

—Michele Ames, spokesperson for Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos[14]

The group provided the following further arguments on their campaign website:

The current gaming industry in Colorado has contributed literally billions of dollars to programs and initiatives outlined and approved by Colorado voters. Granting a monopoly on the Front Range to a single casino operator will decimate Colorado’s existing casino industry and the programs it supports, costing Colorado:
  • $20 million annually to the state’s general fund
  • $15 million annually to promote Colorado’s travel and tourism
  • More than $23 million annually to support historic preservation across all 64 Colorado counties
  • Financial support for gaming impacts including support to communities adjacent to casino towns
  • More than $6 million annually to community colleges
  • 9,000 jobs created directly by the gaming industry and an additional 18,500 supported by the industry
  • Support for bioscience research and general higher education research.

Maybe the out-of-state interest supporting this measure should take a look at Colorado voters' priorities before they attempt to buy a place in the state’s constitution.[4]

—Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos[15]

Campaign contributions

The following totals for the Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos campaign contributions were accurate as of their December 4, 2014, report of contributions and expenditures. This includes all funds since the beginning of 2014.[16]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos $16,260,634.10 $15,713,495.43
Total $16,260,634.10 $15,713,495.43

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa Black Hawk $5,118,459.92
Isle Of Capri Casinos, Inc. $4,057,422.78
Jacobs Entertainment $3,349,944.58
Monarch Casino & Resort $1,844,691.82
Affinity Gaming Black Hawk $1,290,115.00

Reports and analyses

The Innovation Group

A study performed by the national casino research firm, The Innovation Group, suggested that if Amendment 68 passes, it could generate $418 million in economic impact statewide. The study claimed that the new casinos would create more than 1,400 jobs locally and could lead to an additional 900 indirect jobs from an increase in general economic activity. Further estimates indicated that the new jobs would lead to $129 million in labor income and $114 million in tax revenue, which is earmarked for K-12 education. The study did not include analysis on the potential negative impacts the new casinos might have on the casinos in the towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek.[17]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Colorado ballot measures, 2014


  • The Gazette said,
Amending the Constitution to benefit one Rhode Island company could have a direct and negative effect on Century Casinos, Inc. - one of only three publicly traded companies based in Colorado Springs...New jobs in Aurora, at a cost to jobs in three mountain gaming towns, does nothing to improve the state's economy. Likewise, we would realize no great benefit from tax revenues generated in Aurora at a cost to tax revenues previously generated in Blackhawk, Cripple Creek and Central City.[4]


  • The Pueblo Chieftan said,
Amendment 68 poses serious dangers to Colorado’s existing gaming communities and thus to an important revenue stream for existing community colleges. At the same time it is designed specifically to benefit an East Coast corporation that has neither connection with nor commitment to the residents of the Centennial State.

For this reason, we vote no on Amendment 68.[4]

Pueblo Chieftan[19]

  • The Aurora Sentinel said,
The idea is worth pursuing, but only after potential casino owners explain to area local governments what they’ll do to use gambling as a way to enhance tourism as part of an entertainment master plan. Colorado doesn’t need just a closer place to milk gamblers too unmotivated to get to the state’s sad, high-country gambling factories. It needs a plan. Vote “no” on 68 and wait for a complete proposal.[4]

Aurora Sentinel[20]

  • The Sky-Hi News said,
What they don’t say is how much of that money will come out of the hides of existing casinos and workers in Colorado mountain towns. Nor do they dwell on the well-documented downside of legalized gambling — namely that more than a few children will go hungry because mom or dad blew their last paycheck on a long shot.

This one’s simple. Keep this nonsense out of the Colorado Constitution. If not for the state’s well-being, do it for the children.[4]

Sky-Hi News[21]

  • The Denver Post said,
Amendment 68 should be crushed in the same way previous efforts have gone down in flames. In 2003, for example, 81 percent of Colorado voters rejected Amendment 33, which would have expanded gaming at Front Range racetracks with a promise to bankroll the state tourism fund.

Yes, we need better funding for K-12, but this is not the way to do it. And that's why few education groups have stepped up to support the proposal.[4]

Denver Post[22]

  • Steamboat Today said,
Although we support public education, we don't think the state education system needs money badly enough to support passage of such an amendment that would alter the constitution for the benefit of one corporation. Plus, the amount school districts would receive from the gambling tax would not come close to fixing the state educational system's funding challenges. It is estimated by the No on 68 Campaign Committee that Steamboat Springs School District would receive about $311,380 in additional revenue a year if Amendment 68 passed. That amount represents less than 1 percent of the district's annual budget.

Steamboat Springs School District, like almost all school districts and education groups across the state, chose not to endorse Amendment 68, and we'll take it a step further. The Steamboat Pilot & Today emphatically encourages voters to vote "no" on this amendment.[4]

Steamboat Today[23]

  • The Post Independent said,
But the clincher in convincing us that Amendment 68 is a disingenuous attempt to bait Colorado voters into supporting one enterprise in a struggling industry is the head-scratching inclusion in the proposal that horse tracks in Pueblo and Mesa counties also could offer slots and table games...These tracks in Mesa and Pueblo counties are fantasies. No one will invest the money needed to create and sustain a viable track for the five years required before a more-profitable casino operation could start.

We take the bold position that we should not put fantasies in our constitution. Strip those away and the proposal becomes just what the opposition says it is: A constitutional amendment to help one business. It’s a terrible idea.[4]

Post Independent[24]

  • The Daily Camera said,
NO. The measure to benefit one casino owner takes away local control, and its impact on school funding is questionable.[4]

Daily Camera[25]

  • The Longmont Times-Call said,
Amendment 68 should be defeated because of its highly complex and controversial nature. It would likely result in negative impacts to the social environment in Colorado. Gambling would be vastly expanded and with it would come many new problems. This proposal targets Colorado and offers the false sweetener of increased monies for schools. But at what actual cost to the public and to the state's social fabric?[4]

Longmont Times-Call[26]


See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures

Respondents to the Suffolk University Political Research Center poll were asked the following:[27]

Amendment 68 is related to horse racetrack proceeds for K-12 education. Shall state taxes be increased $114,500,000 annually in the first full fiscal year, and by such amounts that are raised thereafter, by imposing a new tax on authorized horse racetracks’ adjusted gross proceeds from limited gaming to increase statewide funding for K-12 education?


Colorado Amendment 68 (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Suffolk University
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado & Amending the Colorado Constitution

Supporters were required to gather 86,105 valid signatures by Monday, August 4 at 3:00 PM for the measure to appear on the ballot. Proponents announced they had submitted 136,342 signatures to the secretary of state's office on July 15, 2014.[14] On July 28, the measure was certified and titled Amendment 68.[28]

Related measures

See also

Suggest a link

External links



Additional reading


  1. Legislative Council Staff and Office of Legislative Legal Services, "Memo to Vickie Armstrong and Bob Hagedorn: Proposed initiative measure 2013-2014 #135, concerning Proceeds from Video Lottery Terminals for K-12 Education," April 2, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Denver Post, "State verifying signatures for gaming measure to fund schools," July 14, 2014
  3. Colorado Secretary of State, "Results for Proposed Initiative #135 Ballot Title Setting Board 2013-2014," accessed May 23, 2014
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. American Gaming Association, "State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment," 2013
  6. Colorado Lottery, "About Us," accessed July 29, 2014
  7. Colorado Lottery, "FY13 Annual Report," 2013
  8. The Denver Post: The Balance Sheet, "Colorado casino battle ramping up with racetrack group raising $1.1 million," May 6, 2014
  9. Providence Journal, "Twin River Casino owner pushing Colorado voter initiative to expand gambling," July 10, 2014
  10. Coloradans for Better Schools, "Key Facts about the Coloradans for Better Schools Initiative," accessed July 15, 2014
  11. TRACER, "Committee Detail: Coloradans For Better Schools, Inc.," accessed July 15, 2014
  12. Mile High Racing & Entertainment, "About MHRE," accessed July 15, 2014
  13. BC Democrat, "CASB opposes Amendment 68," October 20, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Denver Post, "Backers of casino-style gaming at Colorado racetracks submit petitions," July 14, 2014
  15. Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos, "What's at stake?," accessed July 15, 2014
  16. TRACER, "Committee Detail: Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos," accessed July 15, 2014
  17. Denver Business Journal, "Amendment 68: Study predicts $418M windfall from Arapahoe Park casino; opponents dispute estimate," September 25, 2014
  18. Gazette, "Vote 'no' on Amendment 68," September 26, 2014
  19. Pueblo Chieftan, "Amendment 68: No," September 29, 2014
  20. Aurora Sentinel, "Amendment 68: No Dice, Colorado," September 30, 2014 (dead link)
  21. Sky-Hi News, "Our view: Vote no on 67 and 68," October 2, 2014
  22. Denver Post, ""No" on Amendment 68 - it's a risky gamble," October 3, 2014
  23. Steamboat Today, "Our View: Amendment 68 is not worth the gamble," October 15, 2014
  24. Post Independent, "Our View Amendment 68: Disingenuous, ill-advised," October 22, 2014
  25. Daily Camera, "Endorsements, 2014," November 2, 2014
  26. Longmont Times-Call, "No on Amendments 67, 68 and Proposition 105; Yes on Proposition 104," October 15, 2014
  27. Suffolk University Political Research Center, "October 22, 2014 Colorado US Senate, Governor & General Election," accessed October 27, 2014
  28. Denver Westword, "Initiative 135 wins the gamble and makes the ballot as Amendment 68," July 29, 2014