Governor John Kasich signed Executive Order 2011-22K last Friday, making the proposed rules regarding video lottery terminals at Ohio’s horse racing tracks effective immediately. The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) still has the final say, a process that can take up to 65 days. The Executive Order suspends the normal rule-making process, allowing track owners to get slots up and running more quickly. The order is in effect for 90 days.
Less than 24 hours later, the Ohio Roundtable indicated they would challenge the slots in court. Ohio Roundtable has maintained that slots at Ohio’s racetracks require a constitutional amendment. A spokesman has indicated details of the lawsuit will be announced at a press conference this week.
Additional legal action is also brewing in the Youngstown area. The Mahoning Valley Development Group opposes Penn National’s desire to move its Toledo horse racing track to Youngstown. Mahoning Valley Development Group contends that Penn National could wind up with four gambling venues which would create a “monopolistic situation”. The group is also interested in a track of their own, either by becoming Ohio’s eighth horse racing track or purchasing the license from an existing track.
Meanwhile, all this may be put on hold because of stalled negotiations over one of the components of the agreement reached between Governor Kasich and casino owners. HB 277 takes effect this month. Part of that legislation requires track owners and the horse racing industry to reach agreement over how to share the gambling revenues. Such agreement, required before a single bet can be placed, has not yet been reached, despite prodding from state officials.