Looks like Michigan voters will get a chance to decide if they want eight more state run casinos dotting the landscape from Grand Rapids to Motown.
The coalition known as Citizens for More Michigan Jobs is reporting it has gathered more than enough signatures to land a spot on the November statewide ballot.
Spokeswoman Emily Gerkin-Palsrok was asked, "Will you qualify for the ballot? "Absolutely. No question," she smiled which means the group will probably submit around 400,000 signatures to nail this puppy down with 323,000 plus required by state law. In other words qualifying is not a roll of the dice in her mind.
The battle lines are already drawn. The anti-casino group, known as Project Michigan Vote, is running radio adds that Ms. Gerkin-Palsrok dismisses as "outright lies" as in untrue.
The ad suggests that the petition drive was "put together by two Lansing politicians (how sinister can it get) who want to takeaway your right to vote in your neighborhood." Under current Michigan casino law, if there is an expansion of gaming anywhere, it takes both a statewide and local vote to do it.
The spokeswoman argues this proposal maintains that local authority. As for the argument that the state already has 25 casinos and eight more would boost it to 33, she believes the more the merrier.
"Gaming is doing well in Michigan. There is room for it," she goes on. Even the tribal casinos, that will likely spend oodles to kill any new state run operations, are seeking to expand which makes them "hypocritical" the spokeswoman counters.
"It's kinda hypocritical for them to say they don't want anymore state run casinos," when they want more for themselves.
Assuming this gets on the ballot, and assuming everyone signs off there could be new gaming halls in Pontiac, DeWitt, Romulus, Clam Lake and Birch Run Townships along with Detroit and G.R.
Former Gov. John Engler worried about Michigan turning into the Las Vegas of the Midwest. Do ya suppose 33 casinos would meet that definition?