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Anne M. Eberhardt

Deadline Set for Ohio VLT Court Challenge

A public policy group is calling for a statewide referendum.

by John Kady

Columbus, Ohio Common Pleas Court judge Timothy Horton set Sept. 9, 2012, as the deadline for the state to file and answer a suit filed by the Ohio Roundtable over racetrack video lottery terminals.

The public policy group in October filed a lawsuit challenging legislation that would legalize the installation of VLTs at the state’s seven racetracks. The racetrack provision was included in broader casino tax legislation signed into law by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

The Ohio Roundtable noted the state Supreme Court ruled earlier against a move by former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to install VLTs at racetracks. The high court said the action had to be approved by statewide referendum similar to the manner in which four full-scale casinos were authorized.

The Ohio General Assembly, however, passed a bill giving the Ohio Lottery Commission authority to designate racetrack operators as lottery agents, enabling them to install VLTs as part of lottery offerings. The legislature contends the lottery was approved by a constitutional amendment and therefore has the right to do so.

The state’s case will be handled by the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine. It is expected to be addressed well before next September given the fact racetracks are prepared to move forward with installation of VLTs.