Casino plan foes overstate ballot implications, Truth Squad says

What: Radio ads -- "Don't sign away your rights" and "Casino expansion kills Detroit jobs"

Who: Protect MI Vote, an organization opposing a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize eight private casinos, one in Detroit and seven scattered around the state, ran radio ads during the collection of signatures for a casino ballot proposal.

Truth Squad call: Technical foul.

Click here to hear "Casino Expansion Kills Detroit Jobs"

Click here to hear "Don't Sign Away Your Rights"

Questionable statements

"Building seven casinos outside Detroit will kill Detroit jobs and take away millions in tax money that pays for teachers, policemen and firefighters."

Detroit's three casinos are a potent cash machine for the state and local community, with $1.4 billion in revenue in 2011.

The casinos claim a work force of about 8,000 who earned $423 million in wages and benefits in 2009.

Detroit gets about $175 million in annual casino revenue, more than 10 percent of its general fund budget.

The ads do not mention additional revenue that would come from another Detroit casino, instead warning of jobs lost if additional casinos open outside the city. It is difficult to project what the net effect of the seven other casinos would be, since their size and scope remain undetermined.

A study of four casinos opening in Ohio, including one in Toledo, concluded they would siphon $30 million by 2015 fromDetroit as gamblers switch to theOhio sites.

"The people behind (petitions for the ballot proposal) are former Lansing politicians ..."

It has been widely reported the casino proposal is backed by former state House Speaker Rick Johnson and Mitch Irwin, a former state senator and member of the Granholm administration.

"... (W)ho want to take away your right to vote on casino expansion in YOUR neighborhood."

The measure's ballot petition language states that it passes "only if accepted by a majority of electors voting in a statewide general election and a majority of electors voting in the township, city or village where gambling will take place."

Protect MI Vote contends the proposed amendment removes language that requires voter approval for future casinos. Citizens for More Michigan Jobs says section 3 of its proposal upholds a requirement for statewide and local votes and does not affect any future options.

"Unknown people could be granted special status under the Michigan Constitution to own a casino. And they would come complete with a liquor license -- no background check."

Though casino investors have been named for some of the proposed sites, for others they remain unknown. Even if the casino amendment is approved, those seeking to open a casino at any of the identified locations would have to go through the state's casino licensing review. Owners of the parcels of land identified in the amendment could still profit without going through this process, however, by selling their obviously valuable land to others intent on opening a casino.

The ballot measure states: "All of the casinos authorized by this section shall be granted liquor licenses issued by the state of Michigan to serve alcoholic beverages on their premises."

A spokeswoman for the Michigan Liquor Control Commission said "further analysis will be needed" before the amendment's impact on future casino liquor licenses could be determined.

Overall impression: The ads are correct that more casinos could have a draining effect on revenue from existing casinos toDetroit, though their impact may be exaggerated. The ads also rightly assert that ownership of the proposed casino parcels has not been fully and transparently disclosed. The suggestion that casinos could be built without local approval apparently contradicts the proposed ballot language for these specific casinos.

Truth Squad call: Technical foul for overstating the language of the ballot petition language on liquor licensing, casino ownership and local voting requirements. 




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