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Mich.: No on Proposal 1

October 20, 2004

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With less than two weeks before Election Day, horse racing proponents in Michigan are putting forth a full-fledged attempt to garner support in defeating Proposal 1 on the ballot. Admittedly behind in the polls, a come-from-behind victory appears crucial for the future of racing in the Wolverine State.

If approved in the Nov. 2 election, Proposal 1 "would amend the state constitution to require voter approval of any form of gambling authorized by law and certain new state lottery games." Because of its likely negative impact on the lottery and its subsequent effect on its $640 million contribution to public schools in the state each year, Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Republican House Speaker Rick Johnson are featured in television ads asking voters to vote against the proposal.

"She is really pleading with the public to vote no," said Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association general manager Larry Mallar of the governor's stance. "We want this to fail. As far as getting electronic wagering, it would be very damaging to the racetracks."

The proposal as written calls for it being retroactive to Jan. 1, 2004, which means the passage of an electronic gaming bill for the racetracks by both chambers of the legislature earlier this year would be rendered meaningless. It would require all state lottery games "utilizing ‘table games' or ‘player operated mechanical or electronic devices'" after that date to have voter approval, which means some lottery games in the state would have to be suspended until a state-wide vote is held.

Proposal 1 was put forth by the state's Indian casinos and the three casinos located in downtown Detroit and the wording is such that those entities would be exempt.

"Our (electronic gaming bill) passed through the House and Senate and now sits in a conference committee, and the committee doesn't want to do anything with it until after the Nov. 2 election," said Mallar. "(It would render) those previous votes useless if the proposal passes.

"It's a monopoly for the tribes and the three casinos. They could dictate anything," Mallar added. "Regardless of how this goes, the tribes are still going to have more casinos. Whether this passes or fails, they are still out there.

"I want to get the word out to people everywhere. If someone sees this in New York and has relatives in Michigan, then I want them to make a phone call and ask them to vote no on the proposal," Mallar concluded.

For further information, contact the MHHA at (517) 349-2920. Full information on Proposal 1 can be found at www.noonprop1.com or www.ambersystems.com/mhha.
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