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States Look to Gambling for Solutions

28 October 2004

SEATTLE, Washington – As reported by the Associated Press: "California and Washington state are in the midst of a high-stakes, election-year showdown with American Indian tribes over casino gambling.

"Voters in both states will decide Tuesday whether to take a bite out of tribal casinos' business by expanding non-tribal gambling to boost state revenues and provide tax relief. Both sides are spending heavily to defend their turf.

"Four other states have gambling measures on the statewide ballot this year -- an attempt to cash in on the soaring popularity of gambling following a decade that saw a rapid expansion of Indian casinos around the nation.

"Experts say gambling money looks like a sure bet to initiative sponsors in lean economic times -- whether their goal is lowering taxes, improving education or simply shoring up a weak state budget.

"…In Washington state, voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would allow up to 18,000 slot machines across the state. The populist twist is that the 35 percent tax on the machines would pay for property-tax reduction.

"…Down the coast in California, voters will decide on two competing gambling measures, but the smart money is on both failing.

"…In both Washington and California, the campaigns boil down to industry battles: non-tribal gambling versus tribal gambling. The tribes want to hold on to the monopoly they have on slot machines, and the other casinos want a piece of the action.

"…Nebraska and Oklahoma also have gambling initiatives on the ballot, but tribes are not heavily involved in campaigns there. Oklahoma voters will decide on a lottery proposal, and Nebraska voters will decide on two competing measures to expand gambling. Michigan is deciding a gambling-related initiative that would require a statewide vote before any other new, non-tribal casinos can open…"

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