Several Unanswered Questions at Year’s End

Several Unanswered Questions at Year’s End

As we wind down 2010, there are several unanswered questions regarding gambling and the casinos. Most likely we will have to wait on the new administration for any resolutions.

Despite the concern over possible delays in getting Ohio’s casinos up and running, it appears confirmation of the members of the Casino Control Commission will be put on hold, as governor-elect John Kasich has stated he would like to make his own appointments.

Conflicts have arisen in Cleveland and Columbus. Cleveland developer Dan Gilbert wants to straighten the Cuyahoga River to create extra parking. Gilbert has proposed extending the bulkhead at Collision Bend, so named because of accidents that have occurred there, 29 feet. This would allow for construction of a 5,000 space 7-level parking garage. The Corps of Engineers has said only an act of Congress can move the bulkhead.

In Columbus, it is a case of then and now. Before the election, Penn National assured the public they would pay for all necessary improvements. Now they have requested a series of tax breaks, incentives and discounts as a prerequisite for annexing the casino site to the city of Columbus. Among their requests:

  • 20% of gross casino taxes to go towards roadwork and other improvements;
  • 10-year 75% property tax abatement for any hotel, parking garage, or other improvement on the casino site;
  • Discounted water and sewer rates.

Also put on hold by the election. Outgoing Governor Ted Strickland had indicated he would ask the courts to decide the issue of video lottery terminals at Ohio’s horse tracks. That appears to no longer be the case. Strickland’s spokeswoman said the issue will be determined by the Kasich administration. Kasich has not yet taken a public stance. Kasich’s spokesman has stated that Kasich would like to study the issue some more before announcing any sort of action.

Internet Sweepstakes Cafes
This continues to be the hot topic especially in the northern part of the state. Since there is nothing in the state laws regulating these cafes, more local governments are weighing in on the issue.

In Toledo, a site of one of Ohio’s four casinos, business is booming. In November 2009, Municipal Court Judge Francis X. Gorman issued a ruling absolving Rob Dabish, an owner of one such sweepstakes café, of gambling charges. In January of this year, the Sixth District Court of Appeals upheld Judge Gorman’s ruling. This has led to numerous openings of these cafes across the state. However, some communities are beginning to push back.

Wadsworth and Medina have placed a six-month moratorium on all Internet cafes.

Parma has also placed a six-month moratorium on all new Internet cafes. City Council then created a subcommittee to study if and how the city should regulate these cafes.

Lorain has proposed a set of rules that are less restrictive than some of their neighboring communities. These proposed rules were then sent to the Buildings and Lands Committee for further study.

/ Casino