Gaming proponents continue undeterred after the defeat of Issue 6 on the November 2008 ballot. Penn National Gaming, which funded the opposition to Issue 6 that resulted in the initiative’s 62%-38% loss, is proposing a more inclusive initiative to appear on the November 2009 ballot. The proposal would allow up to four casinos in Ohio and authorize Ohio’s seven race tracks to offer full Las Vegas-style gaming. The new proposal would require license fees of $50 million to $100 million for each casino and race track.
Penn National Gaming is negotiating with the Ohio legislature to formulate a proposal that would appear on the ballot without requiring petition signatures. Since the legislature would be involved in drafting and voting on the proposal, the new proposal could be perceived as more even-handed and fair to taxpayers. With Ohio’s economy in dire straits, voters may be more inclined to approve a gaming initiative that would bring money and jobs to the state.
My Ohio Now, the organization that proposed Issue 6 last year, is also preparing a drive for another ballot initiative in 2009. Issue 6 drew criticism from voters in part because it would have authorized a virtual monopoly of a single casino in Wilmington, Ohio. Unlike Issue 6, My Ohio Now’s new proposal would allow casinos in Ohio’s three largest cities.