Ohio lawmakers pass bill setting casino rulesWritten by Associated Press | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A bill laying out rules for four new casinos authorized by Ohio voters last fall was approved by state lawmakers early June 4, several hours after their deadline.
Under the legislation, the casinos scheduled to open in 2012 and 2013 will have an entry age of 21, rules against free drinks and smoking, and closing times of 2:30 a.m. like bars.
The bill passed around 4 a.m. by an 86-to-12 vote in the House and a 21-to-12 vote in the Senate.
Last year’s casino campaign was dubbed Ohio Jobs & Growth, and it focused on the ability of the casinos to create jobs in Ohio’s ailing economy. Unemployment in the state stands at around 11 percent.
The casinos are to be located in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo, and lawmakers had already agreed in earlier versions of the regulatory framework to require payouts on slot machines be at least 85 percent.
The bill also establishes a seven-member casino control commission to license and regulate the casinos.
A ballot measure before Ohio voters last November amended the state constitution to allow casinos at specific spots in four cities, bringing casino gambling to the state for the first time. This spring, voters statewide approved amending the constitution again to move the Columbus casino to a new location.
Language in the ballot measure required lawmakers to draw up casino regulations within six months of the measure’s effective date, a period that ended at midnight June 3. It’s unclear if they’ll face a penalty for failing to meet the deadline.