Fight gambling industry’s attempt to swindle voters

Essay At A Glance

Washington’s voters are being taken for a ride – again.

Initiative profiteer Tim Eyman has teamed up with the gambling industry in an attempt to deceive voters into voting yes on the greatest expansion of gambling in the history of Washington State.

Initiative 892 is not only a shameful attempt to sneak tens of thousands of slot machines into communities across the state – it’s also a threat to the livelihood and security of Washington’s neighborhoods.

Initiative 892 is backed and financed solely by the gambling industry, which along with Tim Eyman, are the only real benefactors out of Initiative 892. The people and Native American tribes of Washington State are the losers, and in a big way.

Most of the companies that stand to benefit from I-892 are out of state, foreign gambling conglomerates with a history of problems.

These same companies helped finance the I-892 signature drive.

Great Canadian, I-892’s largest contributor at $72,000, previously invested in a cruise ship venture that soured, and is now involved in a lawsuit against Allegiance Capital of Texas, which partnered in the investment.

The cruise ship itself is now a floating den of prostitutes off the coast of Taiwan.

Besides the failed cruise ship venture, former employees of Great Canadian have stated in sworn depositions that casino managers overlooked loansharking at the company’s British Columbia casinos.

For reporting on the loansharking story, the CBC was faced with a Great Canadian lawsuit alleging libel.

Great Canadian is the meanest bully on the block. It has aggressively pushed into Washington State, buying up four casinos and dumping hundreds of thousands into an initiative that allows it to cash out on its investments at the expense of Washington’s communities.

Great Canadian reaffirmed its sinister interest in Washington State when it acquired the other half of partially owned subsidiary Evergreen Entertainment Corp. and raised its stakes by $5.3 million.

It obviously expects I-892 to pass and is hoping to reap the rewards.

Another large donor is Michaels Associates of Nevada, which was fined $50,000 by the Washington State Gambling Commission for lax oversight that resulted in a $250,000 embezzlement.

And yet another large donor, Washington Gaming, Inc., owned by the Iszley brothers, is currently more than $900,000 delinquent in state taxes.

I-892’s backers are dishonest, scrupulous companies with questionable reputations. They stand to gain from I-892 while Washington stands to lose.

Why is I-892 so dangerous? It allows for the implementation of over 18,000 slot machines in neighborhood bars, bowling alleys, and restaurants.

Slot machines were scientifically designed to be addictive. They’re the most addictive form of gambling. Consequently, they’re very profitable. That’s why I-892’s backers want to be able to install them.

If I-892 is approved, problem gambling will also rise. A study by the Washington State Lottery Commission found that 5% of youth and 8% of adults classified as problem or compulsive gamblers.

These numbers are sure to increase if I-892 is implemented.

In 1998, problem gambling cost the state of Washington $80 million. The approval of I-892 would dramatically increase costs for Washington State and lead to a greater number of gambling addicts.

What’s more, according to the National Gambling Impact Study of 1999, residents living within fifty miles of a casino have twice the incidence of problem gambling.

I-892 is bad news for the people of Washington. The last thing Washington needs is an increase in problem gambling and an increase in the number of people addicted to a damaging vice.

The impact on Washington’s Native American tribes would also be devastating. Tribes currently operate slot machines only on tribal reservations and pledge money annually to treat problem gambling.

The money earned from the tribal casinos is not pocketed for profit, but goes towards the betterment of Native American communities.

With casino proceeds, many tribes have been able to salvage their history and send tribal members to college.

But I-892 would allow the gambling industry to take business away from tribes. And the profits from that business wouldn’t be going to tribal schools, tribal police, or community improvements on tribal reservations.

Slot machines are currently found on only a few Native American reservations. Allowing them elsewhere would be a bad move for Washington State.

We suspect many voters signed I-892 petitions because they were told the measure will lower property taxes to the tune of $400 million.

But I-892 wouldn’t make our tax structure fairer. What it does do is allow the industry to take advantage of Washington’s communities and use them to expand its lucrative profits. That’s not tax reform.

Permanent Defense’s platform on tax reform is comprised of many worthy ideas that would allow Washington to shed its regressive tax structure and implement a new system that doesn’t force middle and lower income families and individuals to pay more than their fair share.

We believe that voters want better choices, and offering real solutions for tax reform is the most important way to move this debate in a positive direction.

Tim Eyman’s shortsighted initiatives do nothing to help the people that are being penalized by our broken tax code. Our ideas, many of them inspired by the sound research and analysis of the Washington State Tax Structure Study, would make a real difference. Sadly, we’re not voting on implementation any of those ideas.

Instead, we’re debating I-892.

Numerous times, the gambling industry has tried to get slot machines legalized in Washington State, but has been rebuffed by the Legislature. So the industry – with Tim Eyman’s help – is trying to dupe we the people into giving them what they want.

It’s time to tell the gambling industry NO – again. It’s time to send a message this November that Washingtonians won’t stand for a massive expansion of gambling in our neighborhoods. This November, protect the quality of life in your local community: Vote NO on I-892.

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Permanent Defense works to protect Washington by building a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of the Evergreen State — like Tim Eyman's initiative factory. Learn more.

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