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Washington minicasino campaign questioned

30 July 2007

TACOMA, Washington -- As reported by the Tacoma News Tribune: "It was the central theme of the attempt to keep minicasinos open in Tacoma – the campaign wasn't run and funded by the owners of the casinos but was a grass-roots effort by the employees to save their jobs.

"Called Associated Casino Employees for Survival, or ACES, the group's message often was delivered by single moms who supported families with casino wages.

"But a lawsuit filed by the man who was the head of the campaign while managing a Silver Dollar Casino on Sixth Avenue suggests that it was mostly a ruse.

"'Everyone knew that the corporation was running the campaign,' said Mike Purdy.

"In his claim for wrongful termination, Purdy alleges that the campaign was funded by the company that owned the casinos and directed by company founder Tim Iszley. A lobbyist employed by the corporate parent of the Silver Dollar casinos crafted campaign strategy, created campaign materials and advised Purdy and other staffers, Purdy says.

"Purdy said he believes he was laid off and then placed on a do-not-rehire list in retaliation for complaining to company officers about improper and perhaps illegal actions in the campaign.

"...Initiative 1 sought to repeal Tacoma's ban on minicasinos. It failed in September 2006, forcing the city's private casinos to close. Despite losing two Tacoma casinos, the company still owns 11 casinos in Washington. It claims to be the largest non-native gambling operator in the state.

"Any portrayal of the campaign as a grass-roots effort would have been deceptive but not improper had the campaign accurately reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission the financial involvement of the casinos' corporate owners..."

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