Slot Machine

Slot Machine

Anne M. Eberhardt

Ohio Lottery Moves Ahead on Racetrack VLTs

The Ohio Lottery Commission is pursuing racetrack VLTs.

After more than a year of delays, plans to outfit Ohio racetracks with thousands of video lottery terminals are on the fast track.

The Ohio Lottery Commission is expected to take action July 19 that would revive Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland’s June 2009 proposal for 2,500 lottery-run VLTs at each of the seven Ohio racetracks.

The commission will vote on seeking a court’s authorization to proceed with the gaming plan. Opponents had gathered more than 320,000 signatures on a petition demanding a public vote on Strickland’s proposal after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled it was subject to a referendum, but the opponents earlier in July announced they were dropping their planned November ballot measure.

“Our first priority is legal clarity, and this is the first step in the process of achieving that clarity,” lottery spokesperson Jeannie Roberts said. “It is our intention to seek a declaratory judgment action from the courts relative to the lottery’s ability to move forward with the implementation of (VLTs).”

The addition of racetrack VLTs is being called an expansion of the lottery. Critics question the legality of such a maneuver, which also was used to add Keno to Ohio’s gambling lineup.

VLT proponents want the state to lower the percentage of money it will take from the devices from the previous 50%. Full-scale casinos, approved in a referendum last year, will have a 33% state tax rate.