Issue 6 continues to dominate the field on controversy on the ballot this November. Voters are split and often ambivalent on the casino question. Many are not in favor of gambling but are tired of watching Ohio dollars flow to casinos in bordering states. Others are not opposed to gambling per se, but think that the deal offered by Issue 6 is not fair to the state or citizens.
Some of the reasons offered by casino opponents:
- Issue 6 calls for a refundable license fee of $15 million. Other states require casino licenses to be auctioned off instead. The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a conservative think tank, estimated that a license for a casino monopoly in Ohio could bring as much as $1 billion in an auction setting.
- A widely seized-upon “loophole” in Issue 6 could supposedly lower the tax rate on the casino to zero if a tribal casino is ever authorized in Ohio. A zero tax rate is unlikely since the money that tribal casinos pay to state governments pursuant to their compacts could be characterized as a tax. However, the possibility has been cited repeatedly by casino opponents.
- The casino would not generate wealth or tap a new, untouched market in the economy. Instead the casino would redistribute how disposable income is already spent. For example, according to the Buckeye Institute, each dollar spent at the casino would equal one dollar less spent at stores, restaurants, and other entertainment venues in the local economy.
- The fact that the amendment would allow a constitutional monopoly for the Issue 6 proponents has drawn scrutiny and sharp criticism.
Some of the reasons offered by casino proponents:
- Ohio’s economy is faltering, and the prospect of up to 5,000 new well-paying jobs is particularly attractive for Wilmington, an area hard-hit by DHL layoffs.
- The casino would generate an estimated $200 million in tax revenue that would be split among all 88 counties in Ohio.
- Ohioans are already gambling, but they are taking the money out-of-state and away from Ohio’s economy. An in-state casino would keep that money in state.
Ohioans may be willing to gamble on Issue 6’s job creation and economic effect in spite of their concerns about the tax treatment and amendment language. The latest poll from late September showed that voters were in favor of Issue 6 by a margin of 50% – 41%. Those odds are better than other gaming measures enjoyed this close to election time in recent years, but that margin could still slip away before November 4.