he plan backed by MyOhioNow.com and Penn National Gaming Inc. would build casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati that would include hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues, The Plain Dealer, citing unnamed sources, reported on its Web site.
Organizers are preparing a signature-gathering campaign in an effort to qualify the proposal for the November ballot. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Cleveland businessman Jeff Jacobs also are behind the plan, the newspaper reported. Jacobs has operated casinos in Colorado and Nevada.
Penn National spokesman Richard Land told The Associated Press the company has had ongoing discussions with a number of people about a potential casino ballot proposal. But no decisions have been made, he said. Telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment from MyOhioNow.com were left after business hours Wednesday.
Ohio voters have rejected state-wide gambling four times since 1990, including last year’s ballot initiative that would have placed a casino in southwest Ohio. Cleveland-based MyOhioNow.com was behind that proposal.
Penn National, the nation’s third-largest gambling company, spent more than us$ 45 million to defeat the initiative. The Wyomissing, Pa., company argued that the deal would create a monopoly by authorizing only one casino statewide. Sources told The Plain Dealer that Penn National and MyOhioNow.com realized it would be better to work together during the next campaign.
The Columbus Dispatch reported last month that Penn National had drafted a proposal to build casinos at Ohio’s seven racetracks and at stand-alone sites in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. The Plain Dealer reported Wednesday that the proposal to build four casino resorts doesn’t appear to involve racetracks.
Organizers said the casinos would create thousands of jobs in each city. Each casino would hand over a us$ 50 million start-up fee and pay a 33 % state tax on all receipts, the newspaper reported. The casinos would be open 24 hours a day and each would have table games as well as a minimum of 5,000 gaming machines.
Governor Ted Strickland has opposed expanding gambling in Ohio, but recently said he would consider new proposals because of the state’s dire budget situation. Land said Penn National is aware of Ohio voters’ unwillingness to allow casinos in the state. "We would need to demonstrate that the state and its communities would benefit in terms of revenue, economic development and job creation," he said. "We would need to present a proposal that voters will understand and support."