The flyers mailed to homes across Michigan in late January looked like the handiwork of a group bitterly opposed to gambling. They pictured dice emblazoned with exclamation marks, piles of crumpled-up cash, and text blaring: "Washington Poised to Force Two New Casinos on Michigan Families. Only You Can Stop the Special Interests." The outfit behind this grassroots campaign calls itself Gambling Watch.
As it turns out, Gambling Watch is a tiny operation financed by MGM Mirage (MGM), one of the world's largest gaming companies. MGM is locked in a bitter dispute with two Native American tribes that hope to open casinos in Michigan. The Las Vegas company inaugurated a new $800 million casino in downtown Detroit in October and is not in the mood for competition. There's nothing underhanded about its tactics, MGM says. "We've made no secret of where we are on this," says Alan Feldman, senior vice-president for public affairs at MGM Mirage.