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Department of Taxation and Office of Budget and Management Releases Study on Ohio Casino Plan

According to a state study published on October 5th, 2009, Ohio would earn more than $640 million annually from taxes on the four casino facilities proposed in a November 3rd, 2009 referendum.

The Ohio Department of Taxation and Office of Budget and Management said that the 33% tax on proposed gaming facilities in Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and Cleveland would produce $643.4 million in yearly revenue. The numbers is close to what supporters of the state Issue 3 have been saying.

The collaboration of a Michigan executive and a Pennsylvania gaming company that is sponsoring the referendum stated that the casino facilities would bring in more than $651 million in tax revenue.

However, the state analysis does contain a vital "what if" If Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is eventually successful with his slots plan for state racing tracks, casino facilities would be less profitable because of the additional gaming competition.

Under that scenario, the casino facilities would produce $469.8 million a year in tax revenue. Gov. Strickland set aside his slots plan after the state Supreme Court decided that the plan is subjected to a vote but the governor has not fully abandoned the plan.

Strickland and other state officials oppose Issue 3. The casino referendum would not put the state's budget on even ground. Most of the tax revenue would go to counties, cities that have eighty thousand people or more and school districts. The state's portion would be allotted for casino regulation, gaming-addiction services and law enforcer training.

The $50 million -per casino license would be used for regional job-training programs. The general fund of the state will not receive any money. The analysis said that the state could incur the $5 million expense of setting up a casino control to regulate the new gaming offering. But the organization supporting Issue 3 said that the state study confirms its claims.

The chairman of the Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee, Charlie Luken, said that the report from Ohio affirms the facts that their casino campaign has been telling Ohio residents. The state study dealt with gaming taxation and revenue but did not study the social effects of gaming.

Critics of Issue said that the casino facilities would worsen social ills like gaming addiction, bankruptcies and crime in Ohio and will ultimately be costly in the long run for the state government.

A professor of business and legal policy at the University of Illinois, John W. Kindt, said that each machines earns about $100,000 annually, costing the equivalent of an employment opportunity.

Kindt said that it will ruin the economic viability of downtown Columbus if a casino is constructed in the area. Kindt and other gaming critics said that casino facilities would become magnets for criminal activity.

Reverend John Edgar, the head of the anti-gaming task force of the United Methodist Churches of Ohio, stated that there is nothing in Issue 3 that would prevent criminal groups from operating casino facilities.

The spokesperson for the Issue 3 committee, Bob Tenenbaum, called the idea of criminal-run gaming facilities "weird". Tenenbaum said that the casino control commission would ensure that the operators have good records.


25 October 2009
News Submitted by:
Jack Silverman

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