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General government state and local ballot initiatives: lotteries, gaming and other news

While media outlets nationwide concentrate heavily on how Tuesday’s election results will affect federal
government spending, contracting and state and local funding, I would like to shine a light on a series of state and local ballot measures that will certainly fly under the radar in the wake of President Obama’s reelection, but may nevertheless have major impact on business, procurement and IT needs. Here’s a breakdown of several measures that are sure to affect state and local lottery and gaming operations, as well as procurement law:
-       Voters statewide weighed in on Question 7, the much-talked about gaming expansion ballot initiative to allow the construction of a casino in Prince George’s County. Public officials argued that tax revenues from the casino would go toward education funding. The measure was vociferously opposed (mainly by a rival casino operator in West Virginia), and led to the most expensive political campaign in Maryland’s history, with more than $90 million spent between supporters and opponents. Despite the opposition, the measure passed by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin.
-       Oregon had two proposed amendments to the state constitution that would have legalized privately owned casinos with gambling, and used the tax revenue for various budget purposes. Both measures were defeated.
Rhode Island:
-       Rhode Island approved a measure to allow state-operated casino gambling at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I. Another measure to allow state-operated casinos in Newport received support from statewide voters (67 percent), but failed to pass because the measure had to be approved by a majority of Newport voters. As with all new state-operated gambling venues, there will likely be substantial opportunities for vendors who provide video lottery terminals, gaming systems and other forms of electronic gambling.
-       Lee County sought to allow slot machine gaming at the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound track. Voters approved the measure, though it remains subject to authorization by the state legislature. The approval of these machines is expected to lay the groundwork for future lottery and gaming expansions in the state.
-       Volusia County also proposed installing slot machines at designated locations throughout the county. Results for this measure are not available at this time.
-       Wood Dale City and Winfield Village both put initiatives on the DuPage County ballot to prohibit video gambling. Wood Dale voted in favor of prohibition, as did Winfield Village.
New York:
-       The city of Geneseo voted on whether to allow video gaming. According to the Star Courier, the measure was barely defeated with a 17-vote margin of 1,730 to 1,713.
-       The cities of Newport Beach and Murrieta placed a pair of initiatives on the ballot to ban the use of red-light cameras. Red-light and speed cameras are produced almost exclusively by the private sector, and cities frequently contract these services out. Murrieta voters approved Measure N to ban the use of such cameras, as did Newport Beach. A fun fact I learned while writing a paper on red-light cameras for my public policy graduate school program: Since 1990, every time the use of red-light or speed cameras has been put to a referendum, the public has overwhelmingly voted to prohibit their use.
-       The city of Santa Rosa voted on a measure to alter the city’s charter to allow the city to contract with a single vendor to provide both design and build services for projects. Previously, the charter required the city to solicit services separately. Though results aren’t final at this time, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat is reporting that the measure is likely to pass (68.4 percent to 31.6 percent).
-       A measure to amend the Alabama State Constitution to allow the issuance of general obligation bonds of up to $750 million with the goal of providing financial incentives to existing companies within the state as well as attracting new industry passed with a 69.3 percent to 30.66 percent margin.
-       The town of Redington placed a measure on the Pinellas County ballot proposing alterations to the town charter codifying a requirement that bidding and purchases be done through a competitive bidding process “whenever practical.” Results are not available at this time.
Analyst’s Take
As for the large swatch of lottery and gambling initiatives, with the exception of Rhode Island and a few other governments, most of the measures were to legalize privately owned and operated gambling establishments, not state-run facilities with concrete contracting possibilities. Still, for many states, the first step toward state-run gambling is permitting the practice in the private sector. While this may not lead to business opportunities in the immediate future, keep an eye on the state and local governments that passed gambling referendums. Chances are that three to five years down the road, a lot of these governments will be looking to get into the lottery and gaming business as well.


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