While the OCCC was addressing casino opening dates, the Ohio House was voting on legislation dealing with a host of issues related to casinos, horse racing tracks, charitable gaming and gambling addiction.
By a 69-24 vote, HB 386, all 213 pages, was passed by the House and sent to the Senate for consideration. If the bill becomes law, VLTs could be up and running in a few months. Of course, a pending lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of VLTs could muddle things.
Among the provisions of HB 386:
- The Ohio Lottery Commission will be responsible for rules and licensing of VLTs at horse racing tracks;
- Any legal challenges to the Lottery Commission rules or actions will now be filed in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, instead of the Ohio Supreme Court;
- Horse racing tracks will give 1% of their slots revenue to a state fund for gambling addiction and substance abuse;
- Minimum number of live horse racing days was raised. Currently, tracks are open as few as 45 days. This legislation increases the number to 75 in 2013 and 125 by 2015;
- VLT licensees must establish guidelines for minority-owned businesses to compete for contracts;
- A $4.5 million agreement to sell land next to the Lebanon Correctional Institution. This will become the new site of the Lebanon Raceway horse racing track. A $12 million fund will also be established to demolish or redevelop old racetracks no longer in use;
- The Ohio Attorney General’s office will enforce casino laws;
- Casinos will be permitted to borrow up to $10 million without OCCC approval. The current borrowing limit is $500,000;
- A provision was removed that would have required counties to spend at least 50% of their casino revenues on police, fire and other safety services;
- Bingo hours extended to 2am.