Reasons to Oppose I-892

I-892 legalizes 18,255 slot machines
Initiative 892’s main intent is to legalize electronic slot machines in Washington State. Currently, slot machines are only allowed in Native American tribal casinos. Tim Eyman’s latest initiative would mean these machines could crop up almost anywhere in Washington’s communities in bowling alleys, restaurants, bars, and so on. Over 18,000 of these slot machines could appear across our state, but Tim just talks about cutting property taxes.

I-892 is funded by out of state-corporations
I-892 is industry backed, and industry funded. Tim Eyman is helping to promote it, and has put his name on it, and for that, he received a $3,100 a week salary in the spring of 2004. Corporations from Canada and Nevada doled out most of the funds to put this initiative on the ballot; Great Canadian Gaming has given $160,000 already. This initiative gives them exactly what they want – what the state Legislature has denied them, for many years, with good reason – legalized slot machines in Washington State.

I-892 is a bad deal for Washington State
With Initiative 892, Washington State is getting a bad deal. We’re promised a phony figure for the amount of money Initiative 892 will save us and told it’s “revenue neutral”. But I-892 is not a good deal. Oregon has done electronic slot machines, and 2/3 of the earnings are taxed there instead of 1/3, which is the amount our state’s machines would be taxed under I-892. I-892 is a giveaway to the gambling industry.

Under I-892, problem gambling would increase
The introduction of 18,255 slot machines can only mean an increase in problem gambling. Slot machines are the most addictive form of gambling ever devised, specially designed to create compulsion. Tax relief shouldn’t be generated off of other peoples’ addictions. Statistics show that:

  • 5% of adults and 8% of youth classified as problem gamblers, according to a 1998 study by the Washington Lottery Commision.
  • Problem gambling cost Washington State over $80 million in 1998.
  • A National Gambling Impact study found that residents living within 50 miles of a casino have twice the incidence of problem gambling.

I-892 means that problem gambling will increase, and all because the gambling industry wants to line its pockets with Washingtonians’ money.

I-892 is unconstitutional
Initiative 892, if passed, will almost certainly be subject to a court challenge. That’s because it is an unconstitutional measure. It deals with two subjects: gambling and property tax cuts for mostly wealthy citizens. Voters should send a clear message: We won’t approve new laws that violate the state’s Constitution.

I-892 sets a bad precedent: Gaming taxes shouldn’t fund vital public services
One of Tim Eyman’s major selling points for I-892 is that taxpayers get major savings from a statewide property tax cut. What does the statewide property tax fund? The answer: public schools. Since when has it become acceptable for Washington to fulfill its paramount duty with gambling taxes? This is downright shameful, and Washingtonians ought to recognize the evil irony of funding public schools with taxes on addictive electronic slot machines.

I-892’s gambling taxes would not be a stable revenue source
Replacing funding for public schools with a tax on gaming industry revenues isn’t just immoral, it’s fiscally unsound. Unlike the statewide property tax levy, a gambling industry tax isn’t a stable revenue source. We can’t depend on the profits of casinos to fund the education of Washington’s young people.

I-892 has been written to take away business from Native American tribes
Eyman, who likes to refer to I-892 as “Just Treat Us the Same”, conveniently ignores the fact that we have not treated Native Americans “the same” for most of America’s history. Promises made to Native American tribes have been repeatedly broken or not kept at all. This includes written treaty obligations. Assimilation efforts and the settlement of the North American continent by immigrants from Europe and other places have thrown many tribes into disarray or out of existence altogether. The surviving tribes today work very hard to preserve their culture, way of life, and tribal reservation. One of the ways in which tribes do this is by building and operating casinos on their reservations.

The ability to offer electronic slot machines gives tribal casinos appeal over Washington’s other casinos, which can’t have the machines. Because tribal reservations aren’t expanding and the number of reservations is not increasing, there is a limit to how many casinos with electronic slot machines can be built, which means there is a check on the industry. Native Americans also use the proceeds from the casinos to fund education and social activities. The gambling industry, on the other hand, would be pocketing the profits if electronic slot machines are allowed in non-tribal establishments.

I-892 is opposed by liberals and conservatives alike
A broad coalition of business, labor, environmental, and civic groups, in addition to many elected officials and activists from across the political spectrum, urges you to vote NO on Initiative 892. Find a full list of endorsements against Initiative 892 here.

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