Ohio Legislators Seek Compromise on VLT Measure

by John Kady

Legislators continue to work on a compromise on racetrack video lottery terminals as a deadline nears to get the measure on the March 2, 2004 ballot in Ohio.

The Senate has passed a resolution that would put a VLT proposal up for public vote next year. Much of the state's share of the revenue would go toward education, but House Speaker Larry Householder would prefer to rescind an increase in the state sales tax. Legislation must pass before Dec. 3 to make the ballot in March.

Gaming devices at the state's seven racetracks would bring in an estimated $500 million to $700 million a year. The tracks would have 1,800 to 2,500 VLTs.

Sen. Louis Blessing has suggested the money be allocated to the state's general fund to enable the legislature to rescind a one-cent increase in the sales tax. A petition drive has been started to repeal the tax, which was enacted in June to balance the budget.

Blessing has also suggested the legislature may consider setting up VLT casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, the state's biggest cities, in addition to racetracks.

A spokesperson for Sen. Kevin Coughlin, author of the Senate resolution that gives the revenue to education, said all sides "have been t alking about" a compromise.