Coalition for Arizona Introduces "Joe Arizona" to Support Prop 201

The Coalition for Arizona, which receives its primary funding from Turf Paradise and the Phoenix Greyhound Park, has introduced "Joe Arizona" as their spokesman to promote Proposition 201, a gaming initiative on the Arizona November ballot that would allow slot machines at racetracks.

In a public press conference held at Turf Paradise on Sept.17, "Joe Arizona" said, "(Prop 201) would allow racetracks to operate slot machines in exchange for giving the state 40% of their gross gaming revenues for state programs and deficit reduction." The coalition has also launched a web site:

According to the Arizona Republic, the state of Arizona is facing a $400 million shortfall in this year's budget. Figures for fiscal 2003-04 are projected at a possible $1 billion. Proponents of Prop 201, using data based on Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee projections, report the annual income from passage of the initiative to be $300 million a year.

There are two other gaming propositions on the ballot: Proposition 200, backed by the Colorado River Indian Tribe, and Proposition 202, backed by Arizonans for Fair Gaming and Indian Self-Reliance. Neither initiative has provisions for racetrack slots. Prop 200, which would allow for a wider range of table games, grants the state 3% of the profits. Prop 202 would give the state 8% of the profits. Prop 201 calls for a 40% tax on racetrack slots and an 8% tax on Native American casinos.

A measure has to get a majority of the votes to pass. If more than one passes, the one with the most votes would become law.

Arizona currently has 17 Native American tribes offering casino gaming. Prop 201 would allow the tribes a total of 19,600 slot machines and preserve their exclusive right to operate table games like poker and blackjack. Prop 201 would allow Arizona racetracks to operate slots at no more than 10 live racing facilities, with each track having a maximum of 950 machines, with a statewide total of no more than 6,450 devices.