Ohio Anti-VLT Group Given Deadline for Suit

The Ohio Roundtable is fighting installation of gambling devices at racetracks.

By John Kady

Efforts to facilitate installation of video lottery terminals at Ohio racetracks continued to quicken Dec. 22 when a public policy group that filed suit over VLTs was given a deadline to respond to motions to dismiss its case.

Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Horton set Jan. 23, 2012, as the deadline for the Ohio Roundtable to reply to motions to dismiss its case. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently filed four motions to dismiss the suit, which challenges the constitutionality of a 2011 law that gives the Ohio Lottery Commission authorization to license seven racetracks as VLT agents.

The Ohio Roundtable claims the state legislature—and ultimately Republican Gov. John Kasich—doesn’t have the authority to pass such legislation. The group believes racetrack VLTs should be approved by a constitutional amendment, similar to one that authorized four full-scale casinos in 2009.

Several years ago the Ohio Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional a move by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to install VLTs at racetracks through a directive to the lottery commission.

The lottery commission already has adopted regulations for VLTs, and one company—MTR Gaming Group, which owns the Scioto Downs harness track near Columbus—has applied for a VLT license. MTR Gaming officials believe the lawsuit will be dismissed, and they anticipate having a VLT facility open in the second quarter of 2012.

Each track must have a minimum of 2,500 machines, but can ask the lottery commission for more depending on market conditions.