CASINO

Allure of new jobs could make way for gambling expansion in Michigan

TAGs: Casino News, gambling, government, Michigan

casino plans MichiganFor a struggling state like Michigan where job opportunities are few and far in-between, a group of individuals, led by Pontiac’s former state-appointed financial manager Fred Leeb, is hard at work seeking a constitutional amendment that will pave the way for an expansion in casino gambling in eight different locations across Michigan, a drive that could potentially lead to a spike in employment in the beleaguered state.While the state already has its fair share of casinos – 22 are operated by Indian tribesand are considered sovereign nations with another three that are privately operated in Detroit – lawmakers are looking into proposing a new bill seeking to allow voters to give approval to the addition of eight new casinos in the state.Should the bill pass, a campaign will then be launched to convince voters to support and approve the move to expand casino gambling in the state with the argument that it could open up over 16,000 new jobs in the state and generate up to $275 million in annual tax revenues, money that could be wisely spent on a number of state-wide projects, including building new public schools and improving police and fire services.

The organization leading this effort is Jobs First LCC, a partnership of eight groups comprising of the eight locations that are being targeted as sites for the expansion of casino gambling in the state. Leeb, who was once a state-appointed emergency manager of Pontiac from March 2009 until June 2010, is spearheading the drive to put the initiative on the November ballot. While that is still months away, the initial objective is to submit the wording of the ballot proposal to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers this week. In the event that is approved, CMMJ – the Citizens for More Michigan Jobs – will have a little over three months to collect 322,000 valid signatures before July 9 to bring the matter up to voters when the general election ballot occurs on November 9.

Despite the growing support for the initiative, the group still expects some opposition, particularly those that already own casinos in the state, who fear that the addition of more gambling sites would cut into their revenue pie. Nevertheless, proponents are confident that future discussions will turn into a hot topic in the state with plenty of advocates becoming more vocal in their support for the initiative.

While talking Casino Gambling News, Gaming Analyst Steve Schwartz was apprehensive about the short-term success of the initiative, although he did say that it could open up to even more discussion in the future.

“Even if the plan ultimately fails, which I believe it will, it will bring a tremendous amount of exposure to an issue that is hot around the US,” said Schwartz. “There is going to be a lot of lobbying money going into this battle, and the pro-expansion groups will ensure that the issue becomes a major topic in Michigan. Once that happens, expansion is usually not far behind.”

For a state that has struggled to regain its footing in the wake of the recession, the potential for more job opportunities is an enticing proposition that shouldn’t be ignored. The auto industry, once the lifeblood of Michigan, is slowly coming back, but still isn’t in a position to offer jobs to tens of thousands of Michigan residents that remain unemployed.

This is where this initiative can come in, especially considering that Michigan is becoming a hotbed for the gaming industry. It’s only right to strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of the potential windfall of employment opportunities and tax-generated income that could come out from all of this.

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