Gambling and Good Government Don’t Mix

“The first time Ohio voters say ‘yes’ to the gambling industry is the last time anyone has the chance to say ‘no’.” That is the way Rob Walgate, Vice-President of the Ohio Roundtable, describes the landscape as the first casino approved by voters in 2009 finally opens its doors three years later in Cleveland.

Walgate points out the string of broken campaign promises made to voters that have never come true. First is the 34,000 promised jobs that have never materialized. Next is the fact the amendment was so poorly written that the Columbus facility had to be moved and the Cleveland facility is not in one location but actually spans two properties. Casino owner Dan Gilbert is already discussing opening a third extended facility in Cleveland because the original boundaries were not sufficient.

“The tremendous irony here is that the same casino owners who wrote their own private monopoly amendment in 2009 are refusing to abide by their own amendment language. They are just doing whatever they please, and the Governor and the Legislature are willingly following the requests of the gambling industry. Instead of 4 limited casino facilities, Ohio is now facing three facilities in Cleveland and seven more racetrack casinos operated by the Lottery across the state. The deal voters approved has been displaced by an ‘anything goes’ gambling legislature.”

Walgate reminded Ohioans that all this was predicted all the way back to the first gambling campaign in Ohio in 1990. “The gambling industry has a history across the nation of turning limited legal language into a casino gambling tidal wave. That is exactly what was predicted and what is happening, only faster than anyone imagined. Once voters say yes to ‘limited’ casino gambling, the industry takes yes to never mean no. Sadly the Governor and Statehouse politicians are only too willing to please the new casino overlords. The voters have been kicked to the curb along with the Constitution.”

The Roundtable has been making the case that casino gambling and good government don’t mix for three decades. Currently the Roundtable leads a number of plaintiffs in a suit filed to enforce the Constitutional language of Ohio Ballot Issue 3, passed in 2009.

Founded in 1980, the Roundtable is an independent, non-profit, public policy organization headquartered in Ohio and reaching the nation.

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