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US – Reverend urges Colorado to pause mobile betting laws

By - 17 March 2020

Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton has urged Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Speaker of the House Kathleen Becker, and members of the Colorado Gaming Commission to pause legislation that seeks to legalise mobile sports gaming.

Rev. Sharpton emphasised that lawmakers should not move forward until the impact on casino workers and people of colour is understood. He calls on these leaders to take this into consideration as they work through the various types of stimulus to handle the impact of coronavirus.

Service industry workers, many of whom are low-income and from communities of color, are among the most vulnerable in this global pandemic. They are more likely to suffer financially from unexpected scheduling changes or sick days than those in other professions. He argues that now, more than ever, we must be thinking about inequality.

The Colorado Limited Gaming Commission approved nine sports betting rules for permanent adoption in early February, and regulators remain on target to reach the state’s projected May 1 rollout. Rev. Sharpton says the problem does not lie in the rules changes, but in the subsequent attraction of “unsavoury out-of-state hedge funds who profit off of job loss” due to this legislation.

Sharpton said: “Online gaming in Colorado will inevitably attract unsavoury characters who profit off of job loss. That’s almost a given. But in looking at who specifically benefits from the legislation, it’s difficult to understand why the state would want to reward bad behaviour. Out-of-state hedge funds with long records of mass firings and shady dealings have come into the state to capitalise on mobile sports betting and based on their track record—middle class workers and minorities will be the first to be negatively impacted. My job is to spot those problems before they occur and to speak up about them before it’s too late.”

“You don’t need to look any further than Rhode Island-based Twin Rivers to start understanding the harm and the forces at play. Twin Rivers, which is owned and run by Soohyung Kim, a New York based hedge fund manager, purchased three Colorado casinos earlier this year,” he added. “Twin Rivers has a long history of failing to support its employees and Kim and his fund, Standard General, has a long track record of investing in deals that have caused mass layoffs for workers — especially workers of color. Whether it’s the 6,000 people who lost their jobs at Radioshack or the 2,400 people who were fired at American Apparel by Kim’s mismanagement and disregard for working class people, Standard General does not seem like the type of company Colorado should automatically entrust with mobile sports gambling.”

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