Despite crushing defeat at the polls earlier this month, gaming proponents are refusing to give up on their push to bring legalized casinos to Ohio. An article in the Columbus Dispatch indicates that supporters spent over $20 million on the campaign. Columbus-based Beulah Park owner Charles Ruma stated: “I think we’ll be back with an effort; I don’t know what it will look like but it will be much different.”
The article indicates that Ohioans can expect a re-tooled gaming proposal that would focus on Ohio’s major metropolitan areas. Issue 3 would have allowed full-scale casino gaming in Cleveland, but excluded all of Ohio’s other cities. Consequently, Issue 3 was a clear winner in Cuyahoga County, but didn’t fare well in other urban counties. A new proposal would likely have an option to allow casino gaming in Ohio’s other population centers.
Native American gaming is still “chugging ahead,” according to Terry Casey, a lobbyist for the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. The Eastern Shawnee Tribe is one of two Native American groups seeking land rights in Ohio – a precursor to introduction of legal gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Ottawa are also seeking land on North Bass Island in Lake Erie. Though the Ottawa claim that they want to open a fishery on their land, the article suggests that they may be motivated to introduce gaming, as well.
Finally, Ohioans may see an expansion of games offered by the Ohio Lottery. In interviews with the Dispatch, State Representative Bill Seitz suggested that the Lottery may be able to expand into poker tournaments and even full-scale casino gaming.
As gaming supporters gear up for their next effort, opponents are positioning themselves to thwart any new effort to introduce gaming in Ohio. David Zanotti of the Vote No Casinos Committee stated that he is filing papers to keep his committee operating indefinitely, and the committee will have $100,000 on hand to counter any casino initiative.