Oral Arguments Heard in Ohio VLT Lawsuit

by John Kady

The Ohio Roundtable contended in oral arguments April 3 that a 2011 law passed by the Ohio General Assembly allowing the state Lottery Commission to install video lottery terminals at racetracks is unconstitutional. The state responded by asking that the suit be dismissed.

The roundtable, a public policy group, said the law is unconstitutional based on a constitutional amendment approved by Ohio voters authorizing a state lottery designated all proceeds must go to the state for educational purposes. The VLT law says proceeds will be split between the state and racetrack operators.

Rocky Saxbe, an attorney for the state’s racetracks, defended the law, saying it is constitutional because of the way it is worded. The law says the racetracks’ money would come from gross revenue, such as commissions for being lottery agents and money for maintaining the VLTs. The money left over after those payments would be the net proceeds, which would go to the state for educational programs.

Saxbe asked Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Horton to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, which means the lawsuit couldn’t be re-filed but a decision could be appealed.

Meanwhile, the office of Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine asked that the suit be dismissed because the Ohio Roundtable was not in good standing, meaning it has not been harmed by the legislation. The Attorney General’s office said the only reason the group exists is to halt the spread of legalized gambling in Ohio.

Horton took the oral arguments and earlier briefs submitted by both sides. He said he would issue a decision at a later date but offered no timetable.

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