Ohio voters Nov. 4 rejected a proposed $600-million casino—the fourth time plans for expanded gambling in the state have been turned down since 1990.
In unofficial returns, the gambling issue was defeated 63% to 37% with 93% of the vote counted.
Representatives of Ohio’s struggling horseracing industry generally opposed Issue 6 because the casino would have created more competition and provided no funds for racing. In 2006, Ohio voters defeated a referendum that would have authorized video lottery terminals at seven racetracks in the state.
Supporters of Issue 6 bet that voters would think more about Ohio’s economic problems than their previous opposition to casinos and gambling. The state has lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs since 1990, and in August recorded its highest unemployment rate in 16 years at 7.4%.
MyOhioNow.com, a group of Cleveland-area developers backing the proposal, said the resort would create up to 5,000 jobs in an area of the state that stands to lose 10,000 jobs at an air park in Wilmington and an auto plant near Dayton.
The campaign said all 88 counties would share casino money, promoted as $211 million a year, and that it would draw Ohioans who now have to travel to surrounding states to visit casinos. Opponents say little-noticed language means counties would have received less money—perhaps none—if another casino came to Ohio.
The vote shows continued strong opposition to gambling in Ohio, said David Zanotti, president of the Ohio Roundtable, a group of business and community leaders that has fought the gambling issues. “People are really tired of this,” he said. “The credibility of the gambling industry in this state is just about shot.”