Nov 7 Proposals on the ballot in three U.S.
states to expand gambling got mixed results from voters on
A Maryland proposal for casino expansion was approved; one
in Oregon was rejected; and in Rhode Island, voters split,
backing only one of two expansions.
Casino gambling and lotteries have expanded rapidly across
the United States in recent years, boosting state revenues while
allowing politicians to avoid raising taxes.
Commercial casinos are now open in 23 states. Combined with
lotteries, they generated $23.9 billion in state revenues in
fiscal 2010, according to the Rockefeller Institute on
In Maryland, voters approved the addition of a sixth casino
in the state and an expansion to 24-hour table gaming from the
current slots-only operations. The vote followed a $90 million
advertising campaign, most of it spent on a blitz of television
commercials for and against the proposal.
In the end, the message that a new casino would bring jobs
to Maryland helped make the case for the proposal, said Gordon
Absher, a spokesman for MGM Resorts International. The
company hopes to win the contract for the sixth casino and was
the primary financial backer of the campaign for expansion.
In Oregon, where casinos now operate only on Indian tribal
lands, voters defeated a proposal to expand beyond that.
In Rhode Island, voters split, allowing casinos to add table
games like poker and blackjack in the town of Lincoln, but
rejected such a move in stately Newport, where its one casino
currently has slots only.
"It just wasn't what Newport is all about," said Justin
McLaughlin, a Newport City Council member and opponent.
Revenue from the Newport casino, which currently only allows
slots, has been shrinking in recent years. Expectations are that
new casinos in Massachusetts will hurt it further, he said.
Even with some growth from table games, over time
third-party studies showed an inevitable decline, he said.
"I want economic development that will be a reliable jobs
generator, a growth industry that won't, by its own analysis, be
shrinking over time," McLaughlin said.