Lum: No to gambling for kids |

Lum: No to gambling for kids

Su Lum

In 1966, my first year at the ad department of The Aspen Times, I learned that it was illegal to use the word “bingo” in an advertisement because the game of bingo was itself illegal.

Yes, the little old ladies at the Catholic church were engaged in criminal activity, and when the Elks Club held its annual Thanksgiving bingo extravaganza, its ad had to hide the true facts by calling it a “turkey roll” — wink, wink.

We’ve come a long way since then in some respects (think legal marijuana), but our gambling laws are still all over the map, with casinos being OK here but not OK there and the state being granddaddy of them all with the Colorado lottery.

If I were the queen of the country, I’d make all gambling legal everywhere so it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Right now, casinos are like the old speakeasies in the middle of Prohibition, and everybody wants a piece of them.

In November we will be faced with Amendment 68 to the state constitution to allow gambling at horse racetracks in the counties of Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo. Never mind that only Arapahoe County actually has a racetrack and that it will cost the other counties a fortune to get into the game; it’s all about raising money for the schools — wink, wink.

It’s funny, and not a small bit ironic, how laws can get passed in the name of the children (again, think legal marijuana). Imagine the bounty of tax money for schools to be made if only cigarettes came back into favor. Light ’em up for the children.

Red meat is weaseling its way back in, so never say never.

There’s an ancient horse racetrack out at the Aspen Meadows. Maybe we could dust that old thing off, bring in some old gray mares and put up a casino. I could get behind that, but I couldn’t get behind the residents of the whole state of Colorado deciding this question for us.

We have no business deciding what happens in Arapahoe County, and this initiative has no business appearing on our ballots as an amendment to the constitution. Amendments are very difficult to undo, and we should be very wary about changing our state constitution, especially for something as blatantly profiteering as Amendment 68.

If this were an amendment asking us if gambling should be legal in Colorado, I’d say yes. I said yes to marijuana, though I personally don’t like the stuff and I love it that red meat is coming back in favor.

You might ask what red meat could possibly have to do with constitutional amendments, to which I’d say, “Don’t let your guard down.” If New York City could legislate the size of your soft drink and ban the trans fats that are now coming back into favor along with red meat, anything is possible if not likely.

And of course it all started with the smokers. No one ever dreamed how easy it would be to get rid of the smokers, and that was the start of zero tolerance for anything we collectively decide not to tolerate.

That’s scary.

Su Lum is a longtime local who watches it unfurl. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.