Advocacy group Let Ohio Vote’s suit challenging the validity of the executive order to place up to 1,750 video slot machines in each of Ohio’s seven racetracks is still pending before the Ohio Supreme Court. The Ohio Roundtable, another advocacy group supported by various religious organizations, is expected to file a similar suit. Opponents of the slot machine plan note that Ohio voters have rejected four past ballot measures to bring gambling to Ohio, including a 2006 effort to place slots at racetracks.
The first $13 million payment toward the $65 million license fee owed by the racetracks is due September 15, with four additional payments due in 2010, in order to meet the rapidly approaching timeline of May 2010 for the opening of the slots. This timing is critical for bringing in the revenue needed to balance the state’s budget. If Let Ohio Vote’s suit is successful and they are able to gather the necessary signatures, then a proposal to block the slot machine plan would appear on the November 2010 ballot. Alternatively, if the suit is successful, Governor Strickland could attempt to get the initiative on the May 2010 ballot, which will still be a significant delay from the original timeline, and would require deeper cuts in the state’s budget.