Gov. Kasich expected to hire consultant to examine gambling marketWritten by Associated Press | | email@example.com
Republican Gov. John Kasich is expected to soon hire a consultant to explore how Ohio’s gambling market could be expanded beyond casinos and lottery games, and what money that could generate.
One of the first possibilities up for analysis could be allowing thousands of video game-like slot machines at seven horse-racing tracks in the state, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.
He said Kasich acknowledges that gambling could provide opportunities for economic development but has “mixed feelings” about it and isn’t sure it would be as beneficial as some supporters believe it would.
“He wants to consult with someone who has expertise,” Nichols said. “You only get one chance to do this. You have to do it right. So that’s sort of the guiding principle here.”
The horse-racing industry argues that allowing so-called “racinos” would help the tracks by creating millions of dollars in much-needed new revenue after a decade of decreased betting in the industry. They say slots have led to more revenue and larger purses in neighboring Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and could help them keep up with those states.
“We’re at a very critical point,” said Lou Carlo, who runs a harness-racing track at the Warren County fairgrounds.
But allowing slot machines at horse-racing tracks also could mean casinos being developed in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo might lose millions of dollars of business. Each of the seven tracks is within 50 miles of a casino site, the newspaper reported.
At the Feb. 10 Ohio Racing Commission meeting, Penn National Gaming, which owns Toledo Raceway Park and is developing the Toledo casino location, told members of the state racing commission they plan to ask for approval to move Raceway Park should the state approve putting slot machines at racetracks.
Some financial analysts say Ohio has room for both types of gambling, provided the facilities aren’t overtaxed and developers don’t overbuild.
A consultant could help Ohio determine the potential revenue from that.
The American Gaming Association’s report last year showed the 44 racino tracks in the United States — both horse and dog racing –brought in $6.4 billion in revenue, and $2.6 billion was returned to state and local governments through gambling taxes, according to The Plain Dealer.
Nichols said the consultant could make a recommendation about the possibility of racinos before finishing a final report.