Gambling with small towns

  In three Colorado mountain towns where gambling has been allowed since 1990, four out of 10 residents would now like to move out, according to a study by the University of Colorado. Knocking on every door, researchers found that residents want to take flight because of the rapid and drastic changes in their communities. Although the 95-page report did not find a strong anti-gambling sentiment, residents said their communities had become congested by people and traffic and that serious crime had increased. "Gambling doesn't seem to fit the normal patterns of other state economic development activities," says CU business associate professor Patrick Long, who wrote the study. "Gambling behavior doesn't fit the normal patterns associated with other leisure-time activities." Gambling did make money: Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City created 5,200 jobs and generated $35.5 million for the state treasury. But town residents accounted for a minority of the employed, and only about $10 million annually goes to towns and counties hosting gambling. Most revenue ends up in Colorado's General Fund. The $81,000 study, Win, Lose or Draw? Gambling with America's Small Towns, was funded by the Aspen Institute. For a $10 copy of the study contact the Aspen Institute Publication Office, 109 Houghton Lab Lane, Queenstown, MD 21658 (410/820-5326).