Battered Ohio in the Casino Bid Recession
02 November 2009
On Tuesday, history may be made in the State of Ohio. On Tuesday, voters are going to the polls to decide, among others important issues, whether or not to allow gambling casinos to come into their state. The large casino companies have been trying to get into Ohio nearly every year since 1900, but have always failed. This is the fifth time in the last nineteen years that the measure has been on the ballot. Now, with the economic troubles affecting everyone and every state, this just may be the best chance for this legislation to pass.
One of the major problems with this balloting is that like the many times before, this attempt top change the states constitution to allow casino gambling is not to allow state wide gambling. It is to allow specific projects, so naturally the casinos and gambling companies without a project to benefit from this legislation are all arrayed against it.
The initiative, known as Issue Three, allows four casinos, costing at least 250 million dollars each, to be built on specific tracts of land in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, and Cincinnati. The options to buy these tracts of land are owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and the Pennsylvania based Penn National Gaming Inc.
Penn National Gaming Inc, which has spent millions of dollars this year to get this measure passed, spent $20 million last year to defeat a measure that would have allowed a single giant casino to be built 70 miles from where they opened a casino this year in Lawrenceburg, Ind.
The State of Ohio benefits monetarily from this measure as well. Each casino will pay a $50 million license fee and 33% tax on gross casino revenue. This money will be divided among local governments throughout Ohio.
With unemployment in Ohio rising over 10 % as opposed to 6.2 % last year, the sentiment with the states voters may be more conducive to passing this change. The forces fighting to get this legislation passed have been focusing on the jobs that would be created by the construction and by the casinos after they open, strong incentive for the unemployed and those fearful of being unemployed.