Backers of casino ballot question will have to go to court for approval

Aug 27, 2012

The campaign to allow eight new non-tribal casinos in Michigan will have to go back to court to get a spot on the November ballot.

A state elections board deadlocked along party lines on whether to put the question on the ballot, with Democrats supporting the measure.

Opponents of the new casinos include operators of tribal casinos as well as the three Detroit casinos. John Pirich is an attorney for the opponents of the proposal. He says the ballot campaign did not fully explain all the ramifications of the question, including a provision that would require the state to give a liquor license to each casino.

"The provision said you get a license irrespective of whether you’re a felon, whether or not you comply with any of the provisions which are very strict and demanding to get a liquor license," he said.

Pirich says the proposed amendment to the state constitution does not mention altering liquor laws.

Jonathan Raven is an attorney for the ballot campaign. He took aim at the opposition during the election board hearing.

"This campaign opposing the proposal is not a campaign of constitutional experts or scholars who are trying to protect Michigan from some new radical regime," he said. "These are casino operators who have a monopoly in Detroit and a few native American casinos who do not want competition."

The next stop for the ballot campaign could be the Michigan Court of Appeals. The casino question has already been through one round of litigation regarding the wording of the amendment.  The state Supreme Court rejected that challenge last week.