CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Related Links
Recent Articles

Gaming Guru

 

Reputation of Gaming Industry is Hurt by Battle Over Proposal 1

10 November 2004

The gaming industry certainly has made for some strange bedfellows in the past year. Whether or not you agreed with the passage of Proposal 1 here in Michigan (the recent proposal which passed requiring a state and local vote for any future gaming expansion), it is clear that the reputation of the gaming industry has been tarnished as a result of the recent campaign. The Detroit casinos and tribal interests that pushed the proposal ended up in a strange alliance with the most vocal detractors of the industry. On the other side of the argument were the horse racing interests, who also tried to exploit Midwestern fears about gaming in their own unique campaign.

The proponents of the proposal at least attempted to take the high road, arguing initially that the matter should be one of the people's choice - and that any new gaming expansion should have to jump through the same hoops (i.e., a state and local vote) that the Detroit casinos had to jump through. However, by the end the campaign shifted to one that took the gloves off suggesting that politicians had secret plans for some vast expansion of gaming into racetracks, bars and restaurants, and even homes through the Internet. Although this tactic may have succeeded in winning passage of the proposal, almost certainly the "politicians" who were the subject of the attack will likely long remember this campaign. Unfortunately, implicit in this method of attack was the suggestion that gaming is a bad thing - and one that people should not want any more of. By taking this approach, the industry has given validity to the myths espoused by the industry's detractors who will never rest until all the casinos are shut down or taxed into oblivion.

The opponents of the proposal (the Governor, the Lottery and horse racing interests) found their own way to exploit myths about the industry. The "Vote No on Proposal 1" website suggested that the only winners would be "Indian casinos and Detroit's Las Vegas bosses." Rather than discussing the potential merits of the use of gaming as an economic revitalization tool for the tracks and for agriculture, this group chose to avoid any meaningful discussion of the true agenda behind the proposal - VLTs at tracks. By not addressing this issue meaningfully, the opponents set themselves up for the hardball tactics at the end of the campaign suggesting that they were being disingenuous. Now they are faced with the daunting task of convincing state and local voters that they should be allowed to have gaming after they have implied that the industry is evil.

Although hindsight is always 20/20, the key focus for the casino gaming industry and the racing industry should now be on the future. Both in the near term and from a long-range perspective, the members of these industries need to spend the time, energy and money to mend some fences and to get the true message out. The truth is that when approached correctly, gaming can be a powerful economic revitalization tool for a community. That should be the government's mission when allowing gaming, no matter what form of gaming is involved. Both the members of the casino industry and the politicians need to refocus their energies to assure that Detroit becomes a huge gaming success story from this perspective, rather than having it be treated by politicians as a golden goose that can be taxed out of existence. The tribes also need to communicate their own unique message of self-sufficiency and economic contributions to their communities; and, on the other side of the spectrum, if the horse track owners hope to use gaming as an economic revitalization tool, they will need to develop an economic revitalization vision and sell state and local voters on their plan to achieve the vision.

Gaming has a terrific story to tell. Most of people's fears about the gaming industry (whether it be a casino or a track) have been widely shown to be myths through scientific study. In a state which has recently lost another 36,000 jobs, economic revitalization is the key to success on numerous fronts. Hopefully, going forward, members of these industries will focus as much energy on telling gaming's positive story as they did in their recent turf battle. If they don't, the state's mission of economic revitalization through the use of gaming as an effective tool will be difficult to achieve.

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.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
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.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com