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Ohio Group Responds to Tribal Casino Plans

22 February 2005

CLEVELAND, Ohio – (PRESS RELEASE) -- The Ohio Roundtable issued the following statement today regarding recent attempts by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe to convince Ohio lawmakers to open illegal casinos.

Casino gambling is illegal in Ohio according to the Ohio Constitution. Twice voters have affirmed their Constitution and struck down attempts to open casinos by overwhelming majorities. Now a single member of an obscure Oklahoma Indian Tribe with no legal land rights in Ohio is attempting to intimidate lawmakers and seize land in Ohio to open a chain of Vegas-style casinos.

The claims of the Eastern Shawnees are in direct violation to the Ohio Constitution and the Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act passed by Congress in 1988. Legal experts agree that the Eastern Shawnees have no legitimate land claims in Ohio, nor are any pending before the U.S. Department of the Interior. Ohio is not a Class III gambling state, which is a federal requirement for tribes to open for-profit casinos in Ohio. Therefore the Eastern Shawnees have no legal right to enter into any gambling agreements in this state. City councils signing such agreements are doing so in direct violation of the Ohio Constitution.

Even if casino gambling were legal in Ohio, the very worst deal Ohio cities could make would be to sell out to tribal gambling. Cities will lose control over tribal lands, which will convert to sovereign nation status. Tribes are under no obligation to pay federal, state or local taxes on their lands. Tribal casinos are tearing apart the profitability of the existing casino business because tribes have no obligation to share profits with local communities or the state. Any agreements made today can be easily broken by the tribes in the future.

The only people who would profit from such an enterprise are a handful of Eastern Shawnee Indians in Oklahoma, the wealthy developers backing them and a Republican consultant named Terry Casey.

The people of Lorain, Lordstown, Botkins, Cleveland, Sandusky and Monroe are all being scammed by Mr. Casey and his clients. Their real plan is to create so much confusion over the Eastern Shawnees that the Ohio legislature will make the mistake of legalizing some form of Class III gambling as a defense mechanism against the false tribal claims. This would give the tribes exactly what they need -- a legal claim that Ohio has stepped over the Class III gambling threshold.

If the Eastern Shawnees and Mr. Casey are playing loose with the law and the truth at this stage of the game, how many more laws would they defy if they ever gained access to a casino in Ohio?

The Roundtable urges the millions of Ohioans who voted against casino gambling in 1990 and 1996 to contact Attorney General Jim Petro and ask for an immediate investigation into the false claims being made by the Eastern Shawnees and Mr. Casey. We urge the Attorney General and State Auditor Betty Montgomery to review all actions passed by city councils in Lorain, Botkins and Monroe, Ohio regarding agreements with the Eastern Shawnee or any other out of state tribes.

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