On Thursday, June 7, 2012, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Pottawatomi Indians (“Tribe”) held a public informational meeting to discuss the Tribe’s opposition to a state ballot proposal that, if passed, would authorize operation of eight additional commercial casinos across the state.
The meeting, held in the Bingo Room of the FireKeepers Casino, was called by the Tribe to outline reasons why the Tribe is opposing the proposal for expanded gaming in Michigan. The ballot proposal has been drafted and organized by the group Citizens for More Michigan Jobs. Citizens for More Michigan Jobs is proposing a state constitutional amendment that would authorize the establishment of eight new casino facilities, one each in Detroit, Clam Lake Township, DeWitt Township, Pontiac, Clinton Township, Birch Run Township, Grand Rapids, and Romulus. The location of each of these facilities is specified in the proposed amendment, listing the exact parcel of land where each new casino would be located. The proposed initiative would also alter the existing wagering tax structure and distribution process, raising the effective wagering tax rate for commercial casinos in the state, including the three existing casinos in Detroit, from 19% to 23%.
The Tribe is opposing the measure for several reasons. The Tribe claims that the proposal would allow individuals to operate casinos that have not yet been properly investigated to ensure compliance with Michigan gaming law and public policy. As such, the Tribe contends that the proposed language would circumvent the traditional licensing and review processes for these individuals and associated business entities. In addition, the Tribe has stated that the ballot proposal would prevent the public from voting on any future gaming expansion in the state.
In order for the initiative to be placed on the ballot, Citizens for More Michigan Jobs must collect and submit over 322,000 valid signatures by July 9, 2012.