GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - State officials have approved petition language for a pair of competing plans to bring many new casinos to Michigan. Both plans would include a casino in Grand Rapids. Promoters still must gather about 323,000 valid voter signatures on petitions before voters, in November, would decide the fate of the plans.
One group, called Citizens for More Michigan Jobs, has identified the old Sligh Furniture building as the site of the proposed Grand Rapids casino. It's now home to several small businesses and shops. Statewide, CMMJ would build 8 casinos. Spokesperson Emily Palsrok said Wednesday the plan would bring as many as 160,000 jobs to the state and $300,000,000 in additional tax revenue.
Another group, known as Michigan Is Yours, has not yet identified where in Grand Rapids it's casino would go. One of it's leaders, former Detroit Lions football star Billy Simms, said Wednesday, "There would be a concerted effort to sit down with Grand Rapids officials - the mayor, people up there - let them select the spot they think is best...we just want to help Grand Rapids."
A group of existing casino owners called Protect MI Vote, plans to fight what it says would be the "harmful outcomes" of expanding casino gaming in the state. James Nye, a spokesman for the group, said the competing plans are, "A hodge podge of former athletes and former politicians looking to write themselves into the Michigan constitution simply to enrich themselves."
Proponents of the casino plans have until July 9 to gather the signatures required to put their plans before voters in November. The Citizens For More Michigan Jobs plan would also require approval of Grand Rapids voters.
By Peter Ross