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Arizona track owners want casinos

21 July 2009

PHOENIX, Arizona —- As reported by The Arizona Republic: "Horse- and dog-track owners are hoping to take advantage of the state's dire finances to persuade voters to let them operate casinos, a proposal that was rejected at the polls seven years ago.

"Two public relations and lobbying firms started a campaign Monday to sell lawmakers and the public on the idea that casino gambling at existing tracks could be a partial cure for the budget deficit. Publicist Jason Rose said the plan could generate $500 million in its first full year of operation and more than $800 million when permanent facilities are in place.

"Rose conceded that the amount would not erase the current deficit, which for the moment exceeds $3 billion. But he said it could provide an alternative to further spending cuts.

"He argued that taking money from gamblers is preferable to a general tax increase, which is what Gov. Jan Brewer is pitching with her call for a temporary 1-cent-per-dollar increase in the state's 5.6 percent sales tax to raise $1 billion a year.

"The track-gambling push will get a fight from the Indian tribes that now have the exclusive right to have slot machines, blackjack and poker tables, and that waged an expensive and successful fight in 2002 against the tracks to get it..."

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