Summary of State Gaming Related Ballot Initiatives

2008 Election Report: Summary of State Gaming Related Ballot Initiatives

By: Peter J. Kulick Introduction The 2008 United States presidential election has generated intense interest throughout the world. There is no doubt that the outcome of the 2008 presidential election could impact the gaming industry in the United States -- ranging from internet gaming to gaming in Indian Country. Despite the overall focus on the United States presidential election, there are statewide ballot initiatives which directly impact the gaming industry. This year, initiatives have made the ballot in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Ohio which would either authorize or present opportunities to expand existing commercial gaming. This article provides an overview of the six ballot initiatives. Arkansas State Lottery Initiative The Arkansas State Lottery Initiative would establish a state-run lottery in Arkansas. Arkansas is currently one of a small minority of states in the United States which has constitutionally prohibited a state-operated lottery. The initiative would direct that the proceeds received by the state would be used to fund higher education programs. Similar lottery proposals have failed in recent years in Arkansas; however, polling data suggests that the Arkansas electorate will approve the Arkansas State Lottery Initiative in 2008. Colorado Initiative 121 The $816.12 million casino industry in Colorado could be set for expansion if Initiative 121 is passed in November(1). Colorado Initiative 121 would authorize the local governments of Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek to authorize certain expansions to limited-stakes gaming operations(2). Initiative 121 would permit local communities to expand limited-stakes gaming in three manners: (1) Expanding the hours during which limited-stakes gaming can be operated; (2) Authorizing limited-stakes casinos to conduct craps and/or roulette games; and (3) Increasing the maximum bet from $5 to $100. Initiative 121 would also make changes with respect to how gaming tax revenue is distributed in the State of Colorado and dedicate certain increased revenue in gaming taxes to the funding of education. Maine - Casino in Oxford County Initiative The Casino in Oxford County Initiative would authorize one commercial casino to be located in Oxford County, Maine. Currently, Maine is home to just one racetrack casino ("racino") and no commercial casinos(3). Maryland Casino Measure The Maryland Casino Measure would authorize placing 15,000 slot machines at five different locations in Maryland. The Maryland Casino Measure would usher the State of Maryland into the world of racinos because the slot machines would be placed at racetracks. The Maryland Casino Measure would dedicate the state's share of the slot machine revenue to shore up educational funding. The Casino Measure provides for a unique distribution scheme for slot machine profit. Specifically, during the first year of operations, racinos would retain 65% of the slot machine revenue. During the next five years, racinos would retain 50% of slot machine revenue. During the following decade, 33% to 40% of slot machine revenue would be retained by racinos. Missouri School First Initiative The Missouri School First Initiative is a ballot proposal which would: (1) Increase the casino tax by 1%, from 20% to 21%; (2) Limit future expansion of commercial gaming in Missouri; (3) Eliminate the existing statutory loss-limits, which limit casino chip buy-ins to $500 during any two-hour period; and (4) Dedicate any increased state revenue to educational funding. Ohio Casino Measure The Ohio Casino Measure would make Ohio the newest state with a commercial casino. The ballot measure permits the construction of a $600 million casino/resort complex in Wilmington, Ohio. Wilmington is located between the metropolitan communities of Columbus and Cincinnati. Historically, gaming-related measures have not faired well in Ohio. However, recent polls show that nearly 60% of the Ohio electorate favor the Ohio Casino Measure. Conclusion This year, there are six statewide ballot initiatives which could have an impact on the gaming industry. Available polling data tends to show that the Arkansas and Ohio measures will pass. Each initiative may present new opportunities to gaming-related businesses as new markets are open. ______________________________________________________________________ 1. For 2007, Colorado ranked 11th out of the 12 states with authorized commercial casinos. See American Gaming Association, 2008 State of the States: the AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment at 7 (2008). 2. Colorado has authorized limited-stakes gaming which limits maximum bets in casinos to $5. See American Gaming Association, 2008 State of the States: the AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment at 12 (2008). 3. See American Gaming Association, 2008 State of the States: the AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment at 4 (2008).
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