Cripple Creek’s newest casino, the Wildwood, is scheduled to open during April, but American Gaming Group doesn’t yet have a gaming license and concerns are being raised about the town’s recently elected mayor being in charge of the $75 million construction project.
Mayor Dan Baader denies that there is any conflict between his responsibilities to the town and AGG.
“They tried to make a big thing out of it when I ran, but I’m just the construction manager,” he said. “If I had a stake in the casino, it would be different. I’m all about Bennett Avenue (where Cripple Creek’s casinos are located). We think the new casino will be good for everybody – when the water rises, all boats rise.”
However, the Wildwood’s Web site describes Baader as “the senior manager responsible for directing all construction-related activities for the company. His extensive background directing large and diverse teams on complex commercial projects is of great value to AGG.”
Concern about Baader’s potential conflict of interest has reached the Colorado Gaming Division. Ron Kammerzell, the division’s director, was in Cripple Creek on Wednesday.
“We’re aware of it,” he said. “We can’t comment any further.”
Don Silverman, vice president of AGG, said isn’t worried that Baader’s dual roles will derail or delay approval of Wildwood’s gaming license.
“I don’t think that Dan’s position will be cause for concern,” he said. “The commission knows that Dan is an employee of our affiliated construction company, and when construction is finished, Dan will have no further role.”
Marc Murphy, who has owned and managed Bronco Billy’s casino since 1991 said the process for obtaining a gaming license should resolve any questions about conflicts of interest.
“I’ve heard concerns regarding that relationship,” he said. “And if there is a conflict, it should concern everybody in the community, not just the Division of Gaming. But the ultimate test would be in the licensing procedure, which should weed out any potential problems.”