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Arcades keep up the heat on whether Colorado casinos encouraged raids

November 1, 2017 Updated: November 1, 2017 at 1:56 pm
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Golden Dragon Arcade Games in Englewood has been blocked from reopening since was raided on Oct. 4. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Skill Games & Entertainment Association)

Colorado Politics told you three weeks ago that the state's arcade trade association filed open-records requests to get more information about what prompted police raids that alleged gambling at a handful of Front Range arcades. Tuesday the Colorado Skill Games & Entertainment Association provided an update, and it's not exactly a win for the First Amendment or swift justice.

"Since then, those entities have not provided the relevant production in the time frame required by law, and some agencies have responded by refusing to provide any relevant information," the association said in a statement.

Last month the arcade group listed the raided locations.

American Pride in Denver.

La Fortuna in Denver.

Palace Skill Arcade in Evans.

A business owned by Trey Franzoy in Colorado Springs.

$KILLS Arcade in Pueblo.

Table Z #1 in Pueblo.

Table Z #2 in Pueblo.

It's not unusual at all for law enforcement agencies to sandbag such requests from reporters, as well, citing the sensitivity of ongoing investigations as a reason to withhold information. Those investigations can drag out indefinitely, even when they seem to be going nowhere.

The association sent open-records requests on Oct. 12 to several agencies involved in the raids the past few months asking for any communications between casinos and law enforcement before the raids at the arcades.

Colorado Springs is the only police department that has a pending court case, and it told the association it had no records responsive to the request.

"The Colorado Springs Police Department ("CSPD") received your records request and found no records responsive to your request. However, a search of Clerk records found the attached records that may respond in part to your request."

But after the association's attorneys pressed the issue, Colorado Springs' Communication Department provided a 29-page document "with minimal information and nothing regarding the criminal case," according to the association.

The information it provided was from 2014 and was "wholly unrelated" to the owner of the raided arcade, the association said.

The trade group said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation offered to look into it, but asked for $810 to pay the cost. The association paid by check but still hasn't gotten any records.

The Department of Revenue estimated it would take 100 hours of a labor to fulfill the request and asked for a $1,500 deposit, which the association again paid and awaits the documents.

The Denver Police Department "sent a long letter with multiple objections, asked whether we want them to proceed" and provide an estimate for the cost of searching its records, the association said Tuesday afternoon.

"There seems to be an ongoing concerted effort by government and law enforcement agencies to shut down small operators of these skill games entertainment centers based on a dubious interpretation of current state law," Chris Howes, executive director for Colorado Skill Games & Entertainment Association, said in a statement.

"Whether it's continuing to raid entities when authorities know they have questionable legal authority to do so, seizing property without issuing 'cease and desist' letters and now ignoring CORA requests by being obstinate and providing little to no information, we see this as an effort to do the bidding of big casinos and shut down these small businesses by being bullies, even though the businesses are perfectly legal."

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