Ohio VLT Proposal Ready for House Vote

by John Kady

The Ohio General Assembly is expected to vote next week on a video slots proposal for Ohio's racetracks.

The legislation is in the form of a constitutional amendment, which requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate and House. If approved, the video lottery terminal legislation would place on the Nov. 4 ballot a proposal to allow VLT's at the state's seven racetracks.

The resolution could then not be vetoed by Gov. Bob Taft, who opposes video lottery terminals.

A House-Senate conference committee early Thursday agreed on a $49 billion budget for the next two years. The conferees removed a clause in the House-passed budget and traded off the slots legislation against a one-cent increase in the sales tax.

The Senate has under consideration a stand-alone resolution.

The House had put the video slots proposal in its version of the budget. If the voters approved the video slots bill, the sales tax increase would be rescinded under the House proposal.

The Senate resolution calls for the estimated $500 million to $700 million in slots revenue to be divided between education and a prescription drug plan for low income families.

Sen. Robert Hagan, a Democrat, introduced the prescription drug proposal.

"The video lottery terminals will be in serious trouble without the drug program," Hagan said.

"The horse racing industry took a poll and it showed the video lottery proposal would have more support if it included the drug program.".