International edition
September 29, 2020

The us$ 300 million facility is to be developed and operated by Penn National Gaming

US: Bills introduced to give Columbus voters say on casino

(US).- Four state legislators introduced bills this week that could give Franklin County voters another say on whether a casino is built in downtown Columbus. Companion resolutions in the Ohio House and Senate would place a constitutional amendment on the May 4 statewide ballot that would allow communities to opt out of having a casino through a local voter referendum.

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ntroducing the legislation were Senators David Goodman, and Jim Hughes and Representatives Cheryl Grossman and Kevin Bacon. The bills are in response to State Issue 3, which Ohio voters approved by a 53 % to 47 % margin November 3. The constitutional amendment calls for casinos to be built in Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati.

The ballot issue prevailed in the Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati areas, but 58 % of the voters in Franklin County cast ballots against it. In addition, several key business groups, including the ColumbusChamber, Columbus Partnership and Experience Columbus, opposed the casino plan.

“Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati should not be in a position to make development decisions for Columbus any more than Columbus residents should be weighing in on Cleveland projects,” Goodman said in a release. “This amendment gives local communities more control as Ohio takes the first steps into casino gaming.”

The Columbus casino would be built on a former industrial site off Nationwide Boulevard, just west of the Arena District. The us$ 300 million facility is to be developed and operated by Penn National Gaming, one of the largest casino and horse-racing operators in the country.

To get on the May ballot, the constitutional amendment proposal would need support from 60 % of the members in each legislative chamber. Democrats, many of whom count on support from labor unions that campaigned for passage of State Issue 3, hold a 53 to 46 majority in the House. Republicans, including Grossman and Hughes, control the Senate by a 21 to 12 margin.

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