New Lawsuit Filed Challenging Ohio VLT Plan

Another lawsuit has been filed challenging Ohio's plan for racetrack VLTs.

United States Sen. George Voinovich used biblical verse Sept. 3 to blast gambling proponents, including Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who is an ordained minister. Voinovich spoke while announcing a new lawsuit challenging implementation of racetrack video lottery terminals in the state.

Voinovich, the former Republican governor of Ohio, joined forces with the Ohio Roundtable and Methodist churches to announce a lawsuit they filed in Ohio Supreme Court against Strickland’s plan to place video lottery terminals at Ohio racetracks. The retiring senator said he will also help opponents defeat a ballot issue this fall proposing casinos in Ohio’s four largest cities.

Voinovich, who has been an active opponent of expanded gambling for decades, quoted the Lord’s Prayer—“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”—at a news conference announcing the suit.

“I happen to believe that because we have been successful on four occasions in defeating gambling that we have made possible avoiding getting involved with gambling in the state,” he said. “Anybody who understands the impact that that has had on families, like I do, understands what that does. Not only does it affect their temporal situation, it also affects their eternal happiness.”

Had he been governor this year, Voinovich said, “I would have raised taxes.” He recalled taking that path in 1992. “It would have been more forthright to do it,” he said. “Now that’s just my opinion.”

Strickland didn’t believe a tax increase was the right choice, spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said.

“The national recession has impacted Ohio’s economy and certainly the state budget in unprecedented ways,” she said. “In these difficult times, the governor made tough decisions that were necessary to balance the budget without raising taxes because during this recession he thought taxes could prolong the recession in Ohio, would hamper the economy, and would hurt Ohio families and businesses.”

David Zanotti, representing the anti-gambling group Ohio Roundtable, said the lawsuit will focus on three areas the group believes the latest VLT plan violates the Ohio constitution. The group said it’s unconstitutional because the machines go beyond being a lottery; their proceeds aren’t going exclusively to schools; and the bill authorizing them covers more than one subject.

A separate lawsuit heard by the Ohio Supreme Court argues the VLT plan should be allowed to be challenged on the statewide ballot. Ohio Roundtable wants the VLT directive voided.