International edition
September 24, 2020

But a couple of obstacles with potentially huge ramifications remain

Proposal to build four casinos in Ohio to appear on November ballot

(US).- Voters will get a chance to decide the fate of a plan that could eventually bring four casinos to Ohio, including one to downtown Cleveland. The secretary of state's office said that a group backing a constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling for the first time in Ohio has enough signatures to place its proposal on the November 3 ballot.

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ut a couple of obstacles with potentially huge ramifications remain. While Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner on Tuesday approved the measure for the ballot, she announced on Monday that she had launched an investigation into allegedly fraudulent signature-gathering practices that could ultimately dismiss some signatures.

And on Friday, MTR Gaming Group, which owns a horse track near Columbus and is opposing the casino deal, sued the Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee. MTR questions the qualifications of some of the casino group's workers hired to gather signatures. That case is before the Ohio Supreme Court and could be decided within weeks.

If MTR, whose board chairman is Cleveland developer Jeff Jacobs, is successful, thousands of signatures could be invalidated. The committee needed 402,275 signatures.

Brunner said it secured 452,956, even after she disqualified nearly as many for a number of reasons, including petitions having the names of dead people. The casino committee's chairman, Charlie Luken, issued a statement saying that with the proposal on the ballot, Ohioans could make their own decisions about gambling.

The committee touts the casino proposal, which could bring four, full-service casinos to Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo, as job creators that could jump-start Ohio's sagging economy.

The committee estimates that a 33 % tax built into the amendment could mean us$ 651 million a year for Ohio coffers, with most passed onto local governments or spent on education. But that assumes that each of the four casinos would be built immediately and at the same time, which is not guaranteed.

Committee spokesman Bob Tenenbaum has acknowledged that nothing in the constitutional amendment requires the casinos to actually be built or places a timeframe for when they would be constructed.

The amendment merely authorizes the casinos to be erected and controlled by Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert and Penn National Gaming of Pennsylvania. Voters have rejected four separate measures in the past two decades that would have expanded gambling in Ohio. Separately, Governor Ted Strickland and Ohio lawmakers last week approved up to 17,500 slot machines at the state's seven horse racing tracks, one of which is owned by Penn National.

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