Ohio Senate Could Vote on Racetrack VLT Proposal

by John Kady

The Ohio Senate is expected to vote by June 13 on a resolution to put the issue of video lottery terminals at racetracks on the November ballot. Meanwhile, opposition to the proposal picked up with ads on cable television in selected areas of the state.

Also, State auditor Betty Montgomery issued a scathing attack condemning the resolution. "This current effort is all about lining the pockets of an industry hovering at our borders, salivating at the opportunity to make Ohio a wide open gambling state," she said.

The Cleveland-based Ohio Round Table, a conservative group that opposes the issue, took out ads on cable television condemning the resolution.

The Senate is considering a resolution to put the issue up to a vote of the people. The House has passed a budget proposal that contains a clause that puts the VLT issue on the ballot.

The House version also increased the sales tax by a penny, stipulating if the VLTs are legalized by the voters, the sales tax increase would be rescinded. The Senate resoluton is not part of the budget; rather, it is a stand-alone issue. A conference committee will have to agree on what version will be put on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Sen. Louis Blessing said VLTs at the state's seven racetracks are needed to keep Ohio gambling money in the Buckeye state. VLT funds, estimated at $500 million to $700 million a year, would go toward education in the state.

Ohio's seven tracks would each have a minimum of 1,800 VLTs and a maximum of 2,500 machines.