Slot Machine

Slot Machine

Anne M. Eberhardt

Ohio Horse Industry Rallies for Track Gaming

The Ohio horse industry is asking the state legislature to approve racetrack VLTs.

Hundreds of people who make their living in Ohio’s horseracing and breeding industry rallied at the state capital May 19 to support a plan for video lottery terminals at the state’s seven racetracks.

The Ohio State Racing Commission in March presented a plan for racetrack VLTs, revenue from which would be used to fund state education programs as well as purses and breed development funds for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing and breeding.

If the measure is included in the state budget, racing interests would then hammer out percentages. The OSRC plan, though predicated on bolstering the racing industry, doesn’t spell out how much would go to horsemen and racetracks.

Also on May 19, Ohio Senate Bill Harris, a Republican, told The Associated Press he opposes expanded gambling but would consider a ballot question on racetrack VLTs. Other groups hope to get a referendum to authorize four non-track casinos on the November ballot this year.

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who last year authorized the Ohio Lottery to offer Keno at thousands of outlets in the state, has said he opposes expanded gambling. The OSRC, however, is made up of Strickland appointees.

Ohio racetracks for years have been losing group to tracks with gaming or non-track casinos in neighboring states, including Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Kentucky is the only border state without casino-style gambling, though officials there are pushing for racetrack VLTs.