Bill to Authorize Racetrack VLTs Introduced in Ohio

by John Kady

Legislation to authorize 14,000 video slot machines at Ohio's seven racetracks was introduced Nov. 19. The bill, which includes an emergency clause that requires a two-thirds vote by the Senate and House, was introduced by Sen. Louis Blessing, whose district includes River Downs.

As an emergency measure, the bill would not be subject to public referendum under the Ohio constitution. The bill would allow up to 2,000 VLTs at each track.

The racetracks would get 40% of the estimated $500 million brought in by the slots. The rest would be spent on primary and secondary education in the state.

House speaker Larry Householder has suppored video slots in the past, but had no comment on Blessing's bill. Gov. Bob Taft has voiced his opposition to video slots.

"He has not changed his mind," Taft spokesman Joe Andrews said. "He will veto the bill if it is passed."

The bill has been put on the fast track as Senate president Dick Finan has scheduled committee hearings beginning Nov. 21. Paul Tipps, a powerful lobbyist who is working to get the bill enacted, said he believes it would pass before the first of the year.