Report: Benefits of Ohio Racetrack Slots Exaggerated

The costs of problem gambling could outweigh the economic benefits if Ohio's seven racetracks were permitted to install slot machines, according to a draft report by a committee studying the impact of gambling in the state.

The Dayton Daily News reported that the draft as discussed during a committee meeting June 18 would raise no more than $40 million in revenue for the state, and create no more than 1,600 jobs. The draft also said racetracks exaggerated the economic benefits in a 2000 study.

The eight-member committee was formed as part of budget-balancing legislation passed in 2001 that also authorized Ohio to join a multi-state lottery. The committee is to report to Gov. Bob Taft and the legislature by June 30.

The committee chairman said he believes the majority will say it doesn't have enough information to recommend racetrack slots, but some committee members disagree. One of them is Sen. Louis Blessing, a supporter of alternative gaming at racetracks.

"I don't care if its $200 million, $500 million, or $50 million," Blessing told the newspaper of any projected gains the state would make by adding slot machines.

Blessing's district includes River Downs near Cincinnati. The state's other racetracks are Thistledown and Northfield Park near Cleveland; Beulah Park and Scioto Downs near Columbus; Raceway Park in Toledo; and Lebanon Raceway between Cincinnati and Dayton.