Faced with a budget deficit amounting to $2.43 billion, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland changed his stance on video slot machines. Until last week, Strickland had adamantly opposed slot machine placement in Ohio businesses. Realizing that a deficit cure comprised solely of budget cuts would force dangerous outcomes, his tone changed quickly. He indicated that the poor economy was the driving force behind his stark change in position.
If this proposal is accepted by the Ohio Legislature, video slot machines would soon be placed in the seven Ohio race tracks. The state would see revenues, projected to reach $933 million over two years, from licensing fees and a portion of profits from each of the games.
Many Ohio conservatives oppose this move, saying that the “action defies common sense and constitutional law.” Opponents cite the fact that Ohio voters have rejected the legalization of gambling four times in the last twenty years. And, without a vote by the people, they say, any legislative action would be premature and improper.
Proponents of the legislative initiative argue that allowing slot machines would avoid raising taxes, closing prisons, and cutting state employment, pension contribution, and Medicaid funding. Owners of many Ohio bars, restaurants and bowling alleys also support the plan, but take issue with the proposal’s placement of slot machines only in the seven Ohio race tracks.