by John Kady
Ohio Gov. Bob Taft has again stated his opposition to installation of video lottery terminals at the state's seven racetracks. Meanwhile, a key legislator has suggested non-track casinos be located in urban areas.
"Any kind of large-scale video slot machines at racetracks basically amounts to casino gambling, that the people of Ohio have twice defeated," said Taft, a Republican. "I remain opposed to casino gambling. I'm concerned about the social cost, and I don't think it's the way to go for Ohio's future."
A proposal drawn up by a group of legislators from both parties, lobbyists, and horse racing interests would funnel most of the state's share of VLT proceeds to education. The propsoal would be in the form of a constitutional amendment to be voted on in the November election.
House speaker Larry Householder, who last year killed a Senate-passed bill on VLTs, said he is willing to listen. "Sometimes, in order to get things done, you have to give a little bit," he said.
Householder also suggested the establishment of casinos in some of the state's urban areas. 'We certainly have a lot of problems in the cities," Householder said. "We're open to anything we can do to help the cities."
Charlie Ruma, owner of Beulah Park in the Columbus suburb of Grove City, disagreed with Householder. He said linking casinos to racetrack VLT legislation would kill both proposals.
According to estimates, VLTs would bring in an estimated $500 million a year in revenue for the state.