During its Tuesday-evening meeting, the Craig City Council briefly discussed the the Dec. 5 meeting in which Ute tribal members came to the Holiday Inn to look into building an Indian-run casino in Craig.
Council member Don Jones said the tribe didn't really have an opportunity to present its proposal.
"It was more of a lynch mob against the casino," he said.
Mayor Dave DeRose, who also attended the meeting, said that of the crowd of nearly 100 people at the meeting, only 10 or 15 people in were there to hear the facts. The rest were there to voice their opposition to the proposal before hearing what the tribe had to say, and about five said they had moved back to Craig for its quality of life and wanted to make sure it stayed that way.
The Mayor said it wasn't fair for the public to attack the tribal representatives. The owners of the Holiday Inn approached the Ute tribe about building the casino, not the other way around, he said. Also, the meeting was meant to be a small gathering to look into the matter, not an event where a decision was to be made, he said. Most of the people who attended had not been invited.
DeRose said he spoke to tribal representatives after the meeting and suggested they build a truck stop in the area if residents opposed the casino. The tribe already runs a successful truckstop in Utah.
If the tribe did build a casino, the amount the tribe would pay to the city in lou of paying taxes would be worked out before the building started. DeRose said many cities make more money from these casino contracts than they would from taxes.
One council member said that during a recent planning and zoning meeting, all seven board members suggested learning more about the casino before deciding to support or oppose it.
When the council discussed if it should look into the matter further, DeRose recommended the council wait until members of the public came to a meeting and asked the city to do a survey or other research.
"Then the issue's going to be who's going to pay to do that (survey)," DeRose said.
Moffat County school board members also discussed the tentatively-proposed casino during their school board meeting Tuesday night.
Phil Hastings said he opposed the tribe building a casino in Craig.
"I don't see how it would be any good for the community," he said. "With no taxes paid, we won't get anything out of it."
Chuck Malley disagreeed and said the board needed to look beyond the money.
John Wellman said if the Ute tribe builds in Craig, the school board would welcome their children and educate them.
Board members briefly discussed their concerns about the rise in the number of Gambling Anonymous support groups in several Colorado cities that have built casinos
The majority of the members voted for the board to oppose the casino.
The board's president, Gary Eelgen, said he would draft a resolution opposing a casino in Craig for the next meeting.