Ohio Racetrack VLT Measure Fails to Get Senate Vote

by John Kady

The issue of video lottery terminals at Ohio's racetracks died in the state Senate June 25.

Paul Tipps, a lobbyist for Ohio racetracks, earlier believed it could be revived after the bill was rejected by a Senate committee. "Not now. It's dead," Tipps said. "Now, it looks like the only way we can get this done is by a petition of the people."

If supporters of the legislation can gain enough valid signatures, it can be put on the ballot in the tuture. The bill never made it out of committee June 25 after a fight over the distribution of funds.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Louis Blessing, a Cincinnati Repaublican, originally ticketed the funds for education. However, he altered the proposal to include demands by the Democratic minority to include funds for prescription drugs for low-income families and senior citizens.

During the committee meeting June 25, GOP members demanded that all of the money go to schools. Tipps said he understood the Democrats even dropped their demand for the drug legislation, but the Republlicans still killed the bill.

The legislation would have needed Democratic votes for the two-thirds majority required to put it on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.

Supporters of the legislation said Ohio is losing millions of dollars to border states with casino gambling and riverboats. The legislation would have required each of the state's seven racetracks to have 1,800 to 2,500 VLTs. The machines would bring in an estimated $500 million to $700 million a year, according to projections.