Jerry Kopel


Two weeks ago, this column quoted various sources about casino dependency on compulsive gamblers for a portion of their profits. Last week, the Denver Post reported the Jefferson County DA filed criminal charges against the owner of Bronco Billy's in Black Hawk and the casino's general manager for accepting 30 bad checks worth $94,500 from DeWayne VanWey, knowing VanWey could not cover the checks.

The statute involved is CRS 12-47.1-815: "No person licensed under this article may extend credit to another person for participation in limited card games and slot machines." The section contains no explicit penalty. That brings it under CRS 12-47.1-832 as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

The Post story quotes Senior Deputy DA Dennis Hall saying VanWey wrote checks totaling up to $10,000 daily during the winter and spring using the proceeds to play dollar slots at the casino; that VanWey eventually ran out of money and began writing checks he could not cover in April and May; that the casino knew the checks were "bad" but continued to accept them.

Colorado's Gaming Division did not uncover this alleged violation. VanWey, states the article, notified the Gaming Division AFTER the casino threatened to notify police about the checks.

A compulsive gambler first depletes personal resources and then continues to gamble big sums without ability to pay. Even if the casino KNOWS a customer is a compulsive gambler, letting him or her continue to gamble is NOT a crime under our gaming statute UNLESS the casino gives credit.

Contrary to the Post article, Mr. VanWey does not owe the casino $94,500. He should hire an attorney and have a court expunge any liability once it is proven the debt would not have occurred except in violation of the criminal code.

The Gaming Division might find a lot more VanWeys if they posted notices in casinos urging customers to report any "credit" given, mentioning a customer's ability to wipe out any such "credit debt".

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Two weeks ago Aaron Harber speculated: If no candidate obtained a majority of electoral votes, if Gov. Lamm came in second and Dole third, Congress might choose Lamm president over Clinton as Dole could not be considered in the vote cast by the House. While the hypothetical is no longer valid, neither was it correct. Article XII of the constitution provides "if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for as president, the house... shall choose...the president." That would have included Dole.

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