Vice Squad
Monday, November 22, 2004
Build a Road, Fuel Your Feud

Black Hawk and Central City, Colorado, are the Hatfields and McCoys of western US towns: they have been bickering, it seems, for more than a century. Lately they have been competing to attract gamblers to their casinos, but this was not much of a contest:
Black Hawk erected enormous casinos with vast parking lots. Central City, eager to protect its historic architecture, built smaller; parking remained almost nonexistent.

Gamblers driving up from Denver encountered Black Hawk first. When they did, they usually stopped. Central City's casinos, which once numbered 30, failed in droves while Black Hawk's flourished. The town of roughly 160 people became wealthy, with its 22 casinos pulling in $41 million a month.

Central City, population 500, dropped to five casinos and struggled for survival.
Yes, it is hard to survive with only five casinos for your 500 residents. But what to do next? Well, since it was Denver gamblers who were the target audience, one solution would be to move Central City closer to Denver. Or almost a new road that would make it "closer" than its rival to Denver. Sure, the terrain is tough and the towns are at an altitude of more than 8000 feet, but surely $38 million is a small price to pay for an 8-mile-long highway that, one might suspect, will do more to divert existing casino traffic than to create new players. The road opened Friday. Black Hawk residents are thinking of responding by taking Central City on a snipe hunt.

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