News and analysis from The Center for Michigan •
©2015 Bridge Michigan. All Rights Reserved. • Join us online at

Original article URL:

Public sector

Pro-casino claims go a bit too far, finds the Michigan Truth Squad

What: Citizens for More Michigan Jobs radio interview

Who: Emily Palsrok, Citizens for More Michigan Jobs spokeswoman

Truth Squad call: Technical foul

Backers of a proposal to add eight private casinos in Michigan sell it as a jobs plan for the state. They promise up to 16,000 in construction and casino jobs and $300 million in added revenue if voters approve the constitutional amendment.

Citizens for More Michigan Jobs dropped off 509,777 petition signatures to the Bureau of Elections, considerably more than the 322,609 valid signatures needed to place it on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Opposition, they say, stems from existing casinos fearful of competition.

Questionable statements

In an interview with a Detroit radio station, Emily Palsrok, spokeswoman for Citizens for More Michigan Jobs, said, “We know there is more room for competition.” She added: “They don’t want the competition. They don’t want to see more casinos pop up.”

Michigan currently has 25 casinos, including 22 tribal casinos and three private casinos in Detroit. Funding for Protect MI Vote, the group opposed to the plan, has thus far come from existing casino interests.

The ballot proposal would raise the tax on private casinos from the 19 percent now levied on the Detroit casinos to 23 percent. That would presumably cut into the Detroit casinos’ profit margin. Tribal casinos do not pay tax, but do make payments to local governments and in some cases, the state.

The assertion more casinos will be an economic boon to Michigan is difficult to prove, particularly in the dimensions Citizens for More Michigan Jobs projects. The size and scope of the proposed casinos have yet to be fleshed out, so job and revenue projections remain speculative.

State estimates in 2006 put casino employment at nearly 15,000 and it is believed to stand today at about 20,000.

Studies differ over the economic impact of casinos on regions or states. One study found a short-term positive impact that “dies out in the longer term,” perhaps due to competition from other casino venues or the cannibalization of non-gaming industries.

A 1999 study ordered by Congress found evidence casinos spur growth in the hotel industry and add to local revenues, but also cited evidence that casinos resulted in “no change in per capita income” as increases in certain industries were offset by drop-offs in others.

A study commissioned by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce concluded that a proposed casino in Allegan County would have a negative impact on the region and an economic loss to neighboring Kent County of more than $50 million a year.

Is there room for eight more casinos without hurting the existing 25?

Added competition seems likely to have some effect, given that four new casinos in Ohio are projected to cost Detroit $30 million a year in casino revenue.

Overall Impression: Given the lack of detail on investors and individual casino scope, Citizens for More Michigan Jobs overstates the economic impact of casino expansion, while failing to acknowledge potential “saturation” effect on existing casinos. The group also fails to account for the potential loss in local consumer spending on rival tourist and hotel ventures.

Truth Squad call: Technical foul.

2 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Mark

    Yeah, Casinos are great..been to Greek Town lately?

  2. T.W.Donnelly

    Casinos bank on the notion that gamblers will win and win big. This is a fantasy, like Tinkerbelle or the Tooth Fairy. Ultimately, casinos win since they take in more dollars than they pay out.
    Michigan is experiencing hard times, especially for children of the poor who have no way to get out of their lives in poverty. If shoppers spend money in local stores and businesses, they create demand that requires more employees. Thus, more people get to have a job.

    So, casinos are a negative influence on the economic health of a state or a town. We need fewer, not more casinos. We need to spend our dollars to create demand and more jobs for our fellow citizens.

Leave your comment...

Your email address will not be published.

Currently on Bridge

Will we be better off if Proposal 1 passes? Former treasurer says yes

An Earth Day pitch: When you hang up the phone for good, toss it the right way

Michigan’s roads affect everyone, so a 'yes' vote on Proposal 1 makes sense

‘Diplomacy Begins Here’ conference aims to illuminate international relations

What NOT to post on Facebook: Jokes about prison rape, when you’re in charge of preventing prison rape

A program to give young offenders a second chance is sending many to prison

Similar accounts in suit over alleged teen prison rapes pose challenge to state's defense

‘New fish’ ‒ One teen inmate’s account of alleged sexual assault

Early learning summit in June could impact Michigan’s children

Money Smart Week: Be penny wise, and pound savvier

Plan B or no Plan B, here’s what happens if road proposal fails

The political tale behind the selling of Proposal 1

A Bridge primer: Untangling the pothole promise of Proposal 1

Who supports, and opposes, Proposal 1

Let's rebuild Michigan through its greatest asset: its water

Could a public boarding school model work in Detroit?

Coalition supporting Detroit schools a step in the city’s road back

Chasing fads? Today’s schools are struggling too much for that

For one Michigan legislative staffer, an hour or two in the spotlight

A cull is a kill, and it’s an overreaction to deer ‘problem’

Lack of college guidance keeps poor and rural students from applying

Those who can, do – and get their hands ‘dirty’ in the process

For one Detroit mom, a complicated path to employment

Detroit by the numbers – the truth about poverty

Michigan should require dental screening for all children entering kindergarten

Where in the world is the Center for Michigan?

After two years, hard to call ACA anything but a success

Bridge’s Academic State Champs emphasizes all the wrong measurements

A graying population poses challenges for Up North counties

Up North, isolation impedes health care for seniors

Enbridge oil pipes and the Straits of Mackinac: Too risky to ignore

Not bigger government, but better services when Community Health and Human Services merge

Two Michigans gaze across a widening gap

In northern counties, workers and business find each other lacking

Hidden poverty stalks a Pure Michigan setting

Postcard: How a git-’er-done spirit helps one rural school district

Postcard: When elk is for dinner

Postcard: Luxe life at Bay Harbor reflects changing economy

Postcard: A roof and a bed

Invest in non-partisan journalism.

Donate to The Center for Michigan. Find out why.