Lottery Commission plan for video slots at horse racetracks on holdWritten by Associated Press | | email@example.com
Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich wants to study a plan to put lottery-run video slot machines at the state’s horse racetracks, a move that has the Lottery Commission in a holding pattern on the proposal.
The Republican Kasich is not against the plan, but wants to take a “comprehensive look” at gambling in the state, spokesman Rob Nichols told the Akron Beacon Journal in a Nov. 13 story.
“Like a lot of Ohioans, John has mixed emotions about gambling,” Nichols said. “He doesn’t really gamble but he’s not opposed to it. He thinks gambling comes with costs to society that must be addressed and minimized, but the revenue can be valuable.”
The Legislature approved the slots proposal from Gov. Ted Strickland in 2009 to raise as much as $933 million to balance the budget.
Subsequently, voters approved casinos that are now under development in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo, where tax revenues will mostly benefit local governments, not state coffers.
The slots plan has been sidelined by a legal challenge, and Strickland was working to resolve the issues. Opponents say the machines are illegal gambling devices outside the state’s constitutional definition of a legal lottery.
Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said the governor believes slots at racetracks are “an important revenue source for future budgets and will help the struggling equine industry in Ohio.
“Ultimately, this issue will be resolved under the next administration.”
The Lottery Commission has plans on hold until Kasich makes a decision.
“When the new administration makes it clear to us which direction we should be moving, then we’ll know,” Lottery Commission spokeswoman Jeannie Roberts told the newspaper. “Other than that, we’re treading water.”
Track owners have said slots would help protect 17,000 jobs at their facilities. Toledo Raceway Park was expected under earlier plans to receive 2,500 video slot machines. Raceway Park and the future Hollywood Casino Toledo, which is expected to open in the first half of 2012, are owned by Penn National Gaming Inc.
Thomas Aldrich, chief operating officer and executive vice president at Northfield Park in northeast Ohio, said they aren’t concerned about Kasich’s election and are optimistic he will be fair when studying the slots issue.