Groups Ask to Intervene in Ohio VLT Lawsuit

The legal action is delaying installation of gaming machines at racetracks.

by John Kady

Representatives of several Ohio gambling operations testified Feb. 21 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court seeking permission to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Ohio Roundtable, a public policy group that opposes installation of video lottery terminals at racetracks in the state.

The Ohio Roundtable is seeking to overturn a 2011 law that gives the Ohio Lottery Commission permission to install and regulate VLTs at seven racetracks.

Seeking to intervene are Penn National Gaming Inc., which is building two full-scale casinos in Ohio but also owns two racetracks; Caesars Rock Ohio, which is also constructing two casinos and owns Thistledown near Cleveland; and Northfield Park, a Cleveland-area harness track.

Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Horton was also asked by the Ohio Roundtable to reject the request to allow those parties to intervene. Horton took the request under advisement and will offer his opinion at a later date.

The next court appearance on the issue is scheduled for March 13, when the Ohio Roundtable and the state Attorney General’s office will give oral arguments in favor of their motions.

The Ohio Roundtable contends the law giving the lottery commission authority to install VLTs is illegal because of a “backroom” deal reached by Republican Gov. John Kasich and racetrack and casino gambling interests regarding the legality of VLTs. The public policy group believes racetrack VLTs should be on the statewide ballot for vote.