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DENVER-A large group of business leaders and historic preservationists are urging voters to turn down an initiative Nov. 4 that would permit the placement of Video Lottery Terminals at five designated racetracks across the Front Range.

Wembley PLC, a British gambling corporation, is pushing the initiative. The problem, according to a group called “Don’t Turn Racetracks Into Casinos” is that these VLTs, which it says are nothing more than slot machines, will eventually be allowed to match the number of machines currently in use at the limited stakes mountain casinos.

Revenues collected by the state from limited stakes gambling largely goes to historic preservation. The revenue generated from the VLTs would be earmarked for open space, tourism promotion and the companies that own the tracks.

“Most alarming is that this proposal will divert (many expect it to practically eliminate) money from the State Historical Fund,” according to the group. “Gaming enthusiasts will no longer need to leave their backyards and travel to Black Hawk, Central City or Cripple Creek. As casino revenues dry up in these gaming towns, so will state revenues from limited stakes gaming, funding currently used for the preservation and promotion of Colorado’s historic resources.”

The opposition group is largely funded by casinos in the three mountain communities that permit limited stakes gaming. Since 1993, the State Historical Fund has awarded more than $125 million to more than 2,400 projects, providing grants in all 64 Colorado counties.

In addition, the State Historical Fund serves as a major economic catalyst, according to the group, generating an additional $6 million in private investments for every $1 million awarded to rehabilitate buildings.

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