The Ohio Learn & Earn Committee has placed a Constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would legalize slot machines in the state. Roughly three thousand slots would be allowed at each of Ohio’s seven horse racing tracks, and at two non-racing sites in downtown Cleveland.
According to proponents, the measure would generate approximately $2.8 billion in annual slot revenues, of which $850 million would be used to fund college scholarships for Ohio high school seniors. After reaching full funding (estimated at twelve years), the program would provide annual scholarships to Ohio high school graduates enrolled in Ohio colleges. The scholarships would be equivalent to the average cost of tuition at Ohio’s undergraduate universities. Additionally, more than $200 million would be distributed across the state for economic development. Additional funds would be set aside for the counties and municipalities in which the sites are located, as well as a set amount each year for treatment and prevention of gambling addiction. In 4 years, the amendment would also allow voters in Cuyahoga county to approve table games in addition to slot machines, at the two independent gaming parlors.
Recent approval of the initiative came after backers initially came up short of the required 322,899 signatures necessary to have the measure placed on the ballot. After its original submission, the Secretary of State informed the committee that many of the signatures were invalid, and that they would have ten additional days to remedy the 8,700 signature deficiency. Over 44,000 additional signatures were submitted in an effort to get the slot amendment on the November 7 ballot. Last week the Secretary of State announced that the group had obtained enough signatures, and the measure (now called “Issue 3”) will on the ballot.