by John Kady
The Democratic candidate for governor in Ohio has unveiled a proposed budget for the state that includes video lottery terminals at the state's seven racetracks.
Timothy Hagan offered the proposal Sept. 4. Hagan said that, if elected, he would push for the legislature to enact a law that would permit video slot machines at the tracks. Hagan projects the machines would generate $500 million a year.
The VLT proposal has been endorsed by several members of the legislature but has been opposed by Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican. Taft said video slots would encourage gambling by those who could least afford it.
Hagan said he had played VLTs "right alongside my mother."
Taft, at a rally at the statehouse in Columbus shortly after Hagan's proposal was announced, said it is a "very risky proposition. He's gambling with the lives of our children."
"We have bingo," Hagan said. "We have the lottery. We have racetracks. And for those who bet on Enron and Tyco, we have Wall Street. It's not an issue in my mind."
Sen. Louis Blessing, whose district includes River Downs near Cincinnati, earlier endorsed racetrack VLTs and said he believes there are enough votes in the legislature for the measure to pass. Taft has threatened to veto any VLT legislation.