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Topic: Another Casino Attempt, Would Be Good For Economy
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munnbreslin
F L I N T O I D

Proposal would allow casinos in Flint
By Laura Misjak | The Flint Journal
February 28, 2010, 8:33PM

FLINT, Michigan — Another initiative to land casinos in Flint and six other spots throughout the state has sprung new hope into an idea that never quite got off the ground.

Past attempts to land a casino in Flint have failed, most recently in 2008 when a U.S. House Committee approved a possible Indian casino in the city, but that notion fell flat after the House of Representatives voted against the idea.

This proposal would authorize casinos in Flint, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Lansing, Muskegon and Romulus along with Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Sports betting would be allowed at Michigan casinos if the proposal makes the November ballot and is approved.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said he’s very open to the possibility of casinos in Flint, but said it’s too soon in the discussion to make any determinations.

“One of this community’s top priorities is jobs and economic development. Any prospective project has to be given serious consideration,” he said. “I’m 100 percent for economic development.”

And given the city’s history with trying to land a casino, Walling’s not the only Flint resident open to the idea.

A 2004 ballot proposal that would have allowed an American Indian-owned casino in Flint was approved by 55 percent of the vote. However the vote was advisory, meaning it had no legal weight, and no tribes ended up building in Flint.

Former Flint Mayor Don Williamson proposed a Mt. Morris Township development that included a casino run by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in 2005, but the idea didn’t pan out.

Lee Wilkes, 43, of Flint said he would welcome any casinos to the city. Wilkes said he plans to enroll in the culinary arts program at Mott Community College and a casino would mean more jobs hopefully for him and others.

“It will bring more jobs,” he said. “Hopefully more people would come to the city that way.”
If the proposal passes, Walling said the private sector would have to decide where or when a casino could open in the Flint area.

“The prospect of commercial casino licenses becoming available in other cities across Michigan will probably generate a lot of excitement and discussion,” he said.

The “Michigan Is Yours” organization backs the proposal and says it would use some of the tax revenue raised by the new gaming halls to help pay for college scholarships and promote tourism in the state.

Advocates say some of the taxes raised from casino wagers would help fund the state’s Promise grant college scholarship program, which was eliminated this fiscal year. Some tax revenue also would go toward the state’s “Pure Michigan” advertising campaign.

The Board of State Canvassers approved the form of the group’s petitions Friday, but the effort still has a long way to go. Supporters have until July 5 to collect the more than 380,000 signatures needed to make the ballot.

In a statement, the group said its campaign committee includes Benton Harbor Mayor Wilce Cooke.

A group called “Racing to Save Michigan” has a separate proposal that would permit up to eight new casinos, five of which would be at horse racing tracks. That effort also is in the preliminary stages of qualifying for the ballot.

Michigan has 22 operating casinos with another under construction. Gambling expansions require a statewide and local vote, unless it involves Detroit’s three casinos or those operated by American Indian tribes. Casinos already operating in Michigan have opposed expanding gambling.

The state elections board also approved on Friday the form of the petition for a proposal that would require state courts to award joint custody in child custody cases unless there is clear evidence that one of the parents is unfit or unwilling.

That effort is backed by a group called the Dads and Moms PAC, which has until late May to collect more than 304,000 voter signatures needed to make the ballot. The number of signatures differs from that needed for the gambling measure because the gambling one would change the state constitution.

The proposal is opposed by the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for Women.
Post Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:14 pm 
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Dave Starr
F L I N T O I D

I seem to remember Williamson mentioning casinos & everyone claiming it was a horrible idea. Now, it's probably going to be pushed as a great idea.

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Post Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:28 am 
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Adam
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I heard the original plan was to put the casino at Buick City but then Don decided the casino should go on his land in Mt Morris Twp.
Post Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:54 pm 
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Steve Myers
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quote:
Adam schreef:
I heard the original plan was to put the casino at Buick City but then Don decided the casino should go on his land in Mt Morris Twp.


You heard or you know... there you go guessing again.

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Post Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:21 pm 
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Adam
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I have my sources. I do more than just play around on Flinttalk. Wink
Post Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:43 pm 
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Adam
F L I N T O I D

My understanding is Flint voters approved for a casino in Flint and not Mt Morris Twp.

http://www.hotelnewsresource.com/article15480.html

"Donald J. Williamson confirmed an offer for the participation by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe in the development of the Casino project located on Mount Morris Road, Mount Morris Township, alongside the I-75, in Genesee County, Michigan.

The 200-acre site owned by Sports Resorts is located on I-75 with 96,000 cars traveling by per day, which lies within one and a half hours drive of 95% of the population of Michigan, Toledo, Ohio, Sarnia and Windsor, Canada. The proposal calls for the building of a Casino project in a joint venture with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, who are experienced in operating casinos and currently own and operate the Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit, along with five other major casinos in the State of Michigan (see www.saulttribe-nsn.gov). The proposal consists of a shopping mall with 80 stores and a 500-room hotel in the first phase that can be enlarged to 1,500 rooms in the second phase and would include a 200,000 square foot casino to be operated by Sault Ste. Marie Tribe Chippewa of Indians subject to granting of the required Casino Gaming License and permits, acceptance of the proposal submitted to the board of directors of SPRI and to the Chippewa Tribe.

In order to maximize shareholder value for its stockholders, the majority stockholder of Sports Resorts International, Inc., Donald J. Williamson today announced that he has devised a strategic plan to enhance shareholder value and allow each of its businesses to grow as an independent, publicly traded, emerging growth company focusing on a particular industry sector, and to allow the company to focus all its efforts on development of its proposed Mount Morris Sports Entertainment Complex and Domed Stadium, while The Colonels, Inc., will develop the 500-room hotel, casino and shopping center in a joint venture with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Indians.

Donald J. Williamson stated that he will implement the strategic plan by voting in favor of declaring a special stock dividend of one share of SPRI for each share owned, as of the record date to be set as of June 30, 2005, and for spinning off three subsidiaries as independent public companies each concentrating in a specific industry and each having the ability as publicly traded companies to secure additional debt or equity capital required to grow their businesses without the constraints of being private entities owned by a holding company, thus enabling the realization of maximum shareholder value in each business sector.

SPRI will, under the proposal made to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, implement its business plan that calls for the development of the 200,000 square foot Casino, the 500-room hotel and shopping mall with 80 stores, a truck stop gas station and 3,000 parking spaces. SPRI will immediately commence negotiations to raise up to $100 million in commercial mortgage debt to finance the construction of the stadium the hotel and shopping center."
Post Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:13 pm 
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Derrick1965
F L I N T O I D

I say bring it on, we need all the help we can get.
Post Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:26 pm 
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Adam
F L I N T O I D

Technically I think annexing Don's land to Flint and building a casino there might be our best bet.
Post Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:35 pm 
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J HUNTINGWORTH TUNE
F L I N T O I D

Sounds GOOD to me!!.Is it possible to legalize prostitution? I think it would be a great draw for the casinos ..I'm sure there are lots of co eds in the area that need summer jobs..
Post Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:03 am 
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andi03
F L I N T O I D

This idea again? Let it go, like there aren't enough casinos within' 1.5 hours of Flint. If you can afford to freakin' gamble, you can afford the freakin' gas to burn to burn the money....
Post Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:30 am 
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twotap
F L I N T O I D

Ya baby lets get those social security checks into the system where they do some good like into the hands of the Flint city council da mayor or some indian tribe that will bring Flint back for sure. Rolling Eyes

PHILADELPHIA — Eleanor Biferi, 82, plays a nickel slot in the House of Blues at the Showboat Casino. She makes the bus trip to Atlantic City every other day or so, she says. The Atlantic City casinos all maintain responsible-gambling programs, say New Jersey's regulators. But their efforts have limitations.

A Coach USA bus rolls along the Atlantic City Expressway, its route seven days a week.

In the back row, Leroy Taweel, 75, carries a small lunch and the medical kit in the black leather pouch he keeps with him at all times for his insulin shots. As a diabetic, he does not see as well as he used to and does not drive much, especially long distances.

"Boredom kills," the Northeast Philadelphia resident says, explaining his three-times-a-week journeys to Atlantic City's casinos, typically for poker. "I'll be inactive long enough when they plant me."

Casino gambling helps fill the long days for many older adults, and casinos have embraced this clientele. But when their gambling becomes a problem, the results can be disastrous.

"It is harder for them to seek help and nearly impossible to return to the work force," said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. "Once they blow that retirement nest egg, that's it."

The desire to fill time is just one factor that makes older adults particularly vulnerable. Often, they have disposable income. Some are bored or depressed, their children having grown, perhaps a spouse having died. For many, the sedentary nature of gambling, the sitting behind a slot machine, is something they can still do for any length of time.

"They are aggressively marketed to by the gaming industry," said Whyte, whose Washington organization provides information, education and referral services to problem gamblers in 34 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. "They fill the midweek, midday period for the casinos."

Some casinos have instituted marketing campaigns that target seniors through discounts on medications, or special trips from senior centers.

Seniors can feel isolated and are attracted by low-cost bus rides, free lunches, and other incentives that casinos offer, said Jim Pappas, executive director of the nonprofit Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania Inc., which has operated since 1995. "They get on the buses more for socialization reasons than anything else."

But once a senior develops a gambling problem, experts say, he or she is far less likely to seek professional help, partly because of shame.

The calls that Abe Wexler, a compulsive-gambling counselor, fields on a given weekday reflect how devastating the effects of problem gambling can be. Wexler and his wife, Sheila, run a private consulting firm from their home in Bradley Beach, N.J., and present workshops on gambling addiction. Among their clients are Resorts and the three Trump casinos in Atlantic City. This is one day's sampling of the calls:



A widowed Florida woman, 72, married a 76-year-old man who she claims took out several credit cards in her name to gamble. He racked up more than $100,000 on them gambling, and she now had to pay off the cards.


A 55-year-old woman from Michigan said she won a big jackpot three years ago, and now has $170,000 in gambling debts. She said she was afraid to tell her husband, who did not know about her gambling problem.


A 76-year-old man from New Jersey said he lost everything he had to the casinos, and now had $12,000 in debts that he could not pay off.


A woman from Pennsylvania said that her 80-year-old husband played the Pennsylvania Lottery religiously and that, on some days, he would spend hundreds of dollars on tickets.

"The problem is huge," said Wexler, 68, himself a recovering compulsive gambler and a former executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey Inc.

He predicts an explosive growth of problem gamblers in the Philadelphia region with the advent of casino gambling in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is expected to issue 14 casino licenses throughout the state in late December. Two will be for casinos in Philadelphia.

"You have a segment of the population that would never try something illegal," Wexler said. "But when you legalize it, they will try it, and some of those people are going to get hooked."

Before the first casino opened in Atlantic City in 1978, there were 15 Gamblers Anonymous meetings statewide, Wexler said. Today, there are 53 meetings a week in New Jersey and 41 in Pennsylvania.

The state recognizes the potential for problems. Under Act 71, the law legalizing slot-machine gambling in Pennsylvania, $1.5 million, or one-tenth of 1 percent, of expected annual gambling revenue will be allocated to the Pennsylvania Council on Compulsive Gambling. (Proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery financed two-thirds of the council's $160,000 budget last year.) Additionally, each casino operator was required in license applications to outline a program on dealing with compulsive gambling.

"We don't market specifically to seniors," said Rick Casagrande, director of marketing operations for Trump Taj Mahal, which has one of the most active senior bus programs in Atlantic City. "That perception has been around for a long time. We target recreation-seekers who have discretionary income, whether they're young, old or in between."

But the Taj Mahal does all it can to accommodate seniors, Casagrande said. "The layout of our bus area is very senior-friendly. … From the spot where the bus drops a senior off to the casino floor is just a short stroll on the same floor."

"We realize the value of all our customers, including our bus customers," Casagrande said.

The Atlantic City casinos all maintain responsible-gambling programs, according to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, which regulates the casinos. Two years ago, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which owns the Showboat, Harrah's, Caesars and Bally's casinos in Atlantic City, launched a nationwide advertising campaign that focused on responsible gambling, featuring company chief executive officer Gary Loveman.

But their efforts have limitations.

"Our employees are not social-service counselors," said Alyce Parker, spokeswoman for Harrah's Entertainment. "However, they are trained to refer customers requesting assistance."

Counselors such as Wexler receive the calls.

"We've seen a lot of late-onset gamblers that we didn't see before," Wexler said. Many, he said, were women who were "escape gamblers," who had lost a job or spouse and sought some social activity.

Escape gamblers differ from "action gamblers," also known as "adrenaline gamblers," who become hooked on the excitement of gambling and make up about 96 percent of problem gamblers nationwide, Wexler said.

On the bus to Atlantic City, Connie Fisher, 68, of Northeast Philadelphia, sitting two rows in front of Taweel, recalls the first time she took the 90-minute bus trip to Atlantic City six years ago. Her husband had died of cancer the year before.

"I cried the whole way going there," she says, her eyes welling up. "It was horrible. It really hit me that he was gone."

Fisher now heads for the casinos at least twice a week by bus, to play the slots.

"This is my outing," Fisher says. "Life goes on."

Leo Braun, 84, boards a bus from the Northeast Older Adult Center, a senior center, every Saturday to Atlantic City. He spends about $400 a week at the casinos, money from his pension and Social Security checks.

"Look, you can't take it with you," he says, "so why not have fun while you can?"

But what starts as recreation can get out of control, said Pappas, of the Pennsylvania Council on Compulsive Gambling. "It's not uncommon for them to start selling their 401(k)s and depleting their assets to gamble," he said. "It's a slowly increasing problem with the lottery and Powerball in Pennsylvania."

Pappas said that since July 2002, when Powerball tickets were introduced in Pennsylvania, calls to the statewide help hotline have increased 6 percent. Eighty percent of the total calls are from men, 20 percent from women; 25 percent are from people 55 or older.

Almost everyone on Bus 701 is over 55. Many are regulars. They know each other by first name, ask about each other's health. On this day, before the bus starts off, the driver, Frank Weston, leads the group in singing "Happy Birthday" to one of the regulars, Rita Gould, who is turning 62 and is seated next to her best friend, Eleanor Biferi, 82. The widows are together on the bus four times a week.

"Without these seniors, the casinos wouldn't survive," says Eve Renneberg, 78, herself among the group. "Now, with the nice weather coming, they'll be busy all the time.

"Gambling is not a good idea," she says. "It's like throwing your money into a trash can … because the house always wins."

Still, Renneberg, who lives in the Holmesburg section of Northeast Philadelphia, is on board with her husband, Bob, 86, who had a pacemaker inserted in his heart in October and on this day spends the entire ride napping. They budget $100 per outing, which they do about once every two weeks.

"We go down there in between doctors' appointments," she says, only half-jokingly. "This beats sitting in a hospital."

Just before 1 p.m., the bus pulls into Gate 3 at the bus terminal behind the Showboat Casino Hotel.

A woman named Nora greets the riders as they amble off the bus, and takes their $17 bus-ticket stub from them. She hands each an envelope with $15 in cash. With the casino's subsidy, the round-trip bus ride costs just $2. Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Until granny loses it back to the casino.


"The bus is a good deal," Eve Renneberg says as she grabs her envelope. "You can't beat the price."

Neither Renneberg, a former bank teller, nor her husband, a former manager of a propane company, drives anymore.

"We can't do what we used to do, like drive down here and see a show, or walk along the Boardwalk," says Renneberg, who has back problems. "Bob's legs gave out since his heart gave out. Today we'll stay put."

They walk onto Showboat's gambling floor, two customers amid row upon row of slot machines. They plant themselves in front of two of the machines, where they stay most of the day, until the bus reboards at 6:45 p.m.


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Post Tue Mar 02, 2010 8:53 am 
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Derrick1965
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I say bring it on!
Post Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:20 am 
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andi03
F L I N T O I D

I hate to be the one to burst anyone's bubble..why is there such an attempt to bring a casino into town. Is it because Native American remains were discovered?

Sociologically speaking the Native Americans have more respect for their deceased than the rest of society. Is this notion that we should have a casino just because remains were found and the land reverts back to the Native Americans by a revamped treaty that dates back to approximately 1830 something or other.....

Call me cynical but I believe that we are foaming at the mouth over money to negate burial rituals for a group of peoples that have rights...soverign (sp) at that...

Hell, we move bodies out of freakin' cemeteries to make a road...
Post Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:53 pm 
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Adam
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Bay Mills Indians Community buys 28 acres in Flint Township business district; other tribes believe unsanctioned casino in the works
Post Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:34 am 
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pan8
F L I N T O I D

Excuse me as I am an outsider but I can't help but believe Flint has enough misery without gambling. I mean with the high unemployment, homicide rate, drugs and misery in general why add gambling to it?

Don't live in Flint and left Michigan Jan '68 but keep tabs on the state as my sainted mother still lives in Flint.

Just wondering.

Pan8
out and about
Post Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:16 pm 
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