New casinos would open in seven Michigan cities, under a measure a group hopes to get onto the ballot in 2012.
Bill Thompson is a casino expert from Las Vegas who helped draft the proposed constitutional amendment, which calls for a 19% wagering tax for the casinos. He says it would raise about $400 million in tax revenues. More than half the money would fund college scholarships and a tourism ad campaign.
Thompson says much of the rest would go to the communities that host the casinos:
"This will bring money into Saginaw, Benton Harbor – two cities that are in desperate financial situations, also Lansing, Grand Rapids – two cities that need help."
The measure also calls for casinos in Mount Clemens, Detroit and Romulus, where Alan Lambert is the mayor:
"There’s so many people out of work. In my own community there’s a lot of people out of work. So to a city like Romulus this means revenue obviously, and it means a lot of jobs."
Detroit’s three existing casinos will likely put on a vigorous fight to block the measure. And since it’s a statewide vote, opponents say it takes away residents’ rights to decide whether they want a casino in their communities.
The group failed to get a similar measure onto the 2010 ballot.