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Ohio Racing Commission recommends video slots

20 March 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As reported by The Columbus Dispatch: "In a homestretch run to save the state's flagging horse-racing industry, the Ohio State Racing Commission sent lawmakers a proposal today to allow 14,000 video slot machines at the seven racetracks across the state.

"The commission estimated that by 2013, electronic slots at racetracks would generate $1.3 billion after winnings are deducted. Of that, $625 million would go to a special education fund for primary and secondary schools; agents at the racetracks would keep $650 million in commissions.

"Thomas M. Zaino, a commission member and the state's former tax commissioner, said during a meeting at Beulah Park in Grove City that the proposal isn't 'a panacea for Ohio's economic woes or school-funding challenges. ... While adding such gaming will save Ohio's horse-racing industry, it will certainly not save Ohio.'

"Zaino contended that the General Assembly and Gov. Ted Strickland could approve the slots proposal without a public vote.

"Unlike video-slot and gambling proposals rejected by Ohioans in the past several years, the commission wants to have a state agency - the commission itself, the Ohio Lottery Commission or a new entity - and not a private company manage and regulate gambling operations. An estimated 150 additional state employees would be needed.

"The tracks would have to pay $50 million apiece over two years to become licensed agents for slot-machine operations..."

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