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Governor Appoints Gary Peters as New State Lottery Commissioner

30 April 2003

By David Waddell

Michigan, like many states, is facing a serious budget crisis this year. To address these concerns, there is increased talk of expanding gaming to other locations, including horse racetracks, bars and restaurants. House Speaker pro tem Larry Julian has announced that later this week he will introduce wide-sweeping legislation in an attempt to aid the racing industry through the use of "video lottery terminals" ("VLTs") at racetracks.

Use of the phrase "video lottery terminal" is significant. It means that the machines will be under the regulatory oversight of the Bureau of State Lottery. Given the possibility of such expansion, it is clear that Michigan's Bureau of State Lottery will play a significant role in (1) evaluating whether such expansion will be financially beneficial to the state and (2) if necessary, developing a comprehensive regulatory framework to ensure integrity.

Recognizing the importance of the position earlier this month, Governor Granholm appointed former state Senator Gary Peters as the new Lottery Commissioner. Many will remember Mr. Peters as the Democratic candidate for Attorney General in the last election who lost by a stunningly narrow margin. Peters was a two-term state senator, and a vice president at Paine Webber. He rose quickly as a leader in Michigan's Legislature, serving as Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus and vice chair of several key policy committees. As a state senator, Mr. Peters sponsored 91 bills, 14 of which became law.

He holds both an MBA and a law degree and served in the Navy during the Persian Gulf War. Perhaps most importantly, during this time of financial crunch, he served the Senate as Vice Chair of the Finance Committee.

Gary Peters has a vast deal of experience in long-range planning and financial matters. These are two key areas for the State of Michigan as it determines the role of gaming expansion in connection with its budget crisis. Governor Granholm made the following observations in making her appointment:

"Gary is a results-oriented professional who left behind the private sector to work for the people. I know he will work tirelessly to continue his tremendous loyalty and dedication to serving the people of Michigan."

"As both a business executive and a state legislator, Gary has the unique combination of technical expertise and public service commitment to ensure that the Lottery both generates the most money for our schools' coffers and is run with absolute integrity."

The Lottery Commissioner is responsible for the overall management and operation of the Bureau including development of long-range plans, formulation of policy, assuring the accountability and integrity of the Lottery, and establishing and maintaining contact with state legislators to research, evaluate and gauge the impact of Lottery-related legislation. The Michigan Lottery generates over $600 million each year for the School Aid Fund which supports K-12 public education in the State of Michigan.

Gary Peters was an excellent choice for this key position at this key point in history. His willingness to take on this tough job in an increasingly competitive gaming market reflects his true commitment to public service for the people of our state.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

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