Colorado Video Lottery and Tourism Promotion, Initiative 33 (2003)

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The Colorado Video Lottery and Tourism Promotion Initiative, also known as Initiative 33, was on the November 4, 2003 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.[1]

Amendment 33 would have required the Colorado Lottery Commission to:[2]

  • Implement a state-supervised video lottery program at specific horse and greyhound racetracks and at licensed casinos by November 1, 2004.
  • Create a distribution formula for video lottery proceeds to allocate up to $25 million annually for tourism promotion.
  • Provide additional revenue for open space and parks and recreation, potentially provide additional revenue for Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).
  • Designate any remaining revenue for purposes specified in state law.
  • Exempt revenue from the video lottery program from state and local spending and revenue limits.

Election results

Colorado Initiative 33 (2003)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No766,89380.91%
Yes 180,959 19.09%

Election Results via: Colorado Secretary of State

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the generation of additional state revenues through the authorization of video lottery terminals, and, in connection therewith, directing the lottery commission to allow video lottery terminals at designated racetrack locations and limited gaming establishments; after the allocation of net proceeds from video lottery terminals to the great outdoors Colorado program, allocating up to $25 million of such net proceeds in a fiscal year to an existing fund to promote tourism in Colorado; imposing a one-time $500 license fee on each video lottery terminal and allocating such license fees to the tourism promotion fund; exempting net proceeds and license fees from video lottery terminals from all restrictions on spending, revenues, and appropriations; and repealing this measure on July 1, 2019.[3]

Controversy

Several years prior to 2003, Wembley sold its racetrack in England and invested $70 million in Colorado racetracks in Commerce City, Aurora, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. The British company was in trouble over an alleged slot machine scheme at a dog track it owned in Rhode Island. The parent company of Wembley USA was indicted for allegedly scheming to make illegal payments in exchange for approval of additional slot machines at a dog track it owns in Rhode Island called Lincoln Park.

Daniel Bucci, Lincoln Park's chief executive officer, was among those named in the 22-count indictment.

Prosecutors said the scheme involved a proposed $4.5 million payment over six years to a Pawtucket, R.I., law firm in which Rep. John Harwood, a former House speaker, was a partner. The scheme was allegedly concocted in 2000 and 2001, when Harwood was speaker.

Neither the law firm nor Harwood had been charged.[4]

According to the 22-count indictment, the defendants wanted Harwood and other public officials to use their influence to obtain approval from the state Lottery Commission for additional video slot machines at Lincoln Park. The Lottery Commission had nine members, six of whom are appointed by legislative leaders.

Also charged in the indictment were Nigel Potter, chief executive officer of Wembley, PLC, the parent corporation of Lincoln Park, and the Burrillville Racing Association, the former name of the entity that owns the park.

The indictment alleged that, between August 2000 and September 2001, Bucci and Potter sent facsimiles to each other discussing specifics of the proposed illegal payments. Bucci also allegedly sent facsimiles to Wembley, USA, headquartered in Colorado, and to unidentified coconspirators in the United Kingdom.[4]

Support

Wembley USA owned four of Colorado's five Front Range dog racing tracks. The company was behind Colorado Amendment 33, which wanted to place 2,500 gaming terminals in its Colorado dog racing tracks in a move similar to what happened at its Rhode Island track. At that track, Wembley started with 400 video lottery terminals, increased it to 2,200, and next year was reported to plan to have 3,200 VLTs, according to published reports.[4]

Opposition

"We have called this campaign one big lie," said John Dill, chairman of the group opposing the measure. "Now it appears that the company not only has been lying but may be engaged in illegal activity.

"The sponsors of this issue here in Colorado need to re-evaluate whether they should be asking Colorado to alter the state constitution on behalf of the company facing such enormous business and legal turmoil," Dill added.[4]

See also

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