REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Get a piece of the action

Voters will once again be asked to support legalized casino gambling in Ohio when they cast their ballots this November.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Voters will once again be asked to support legalized casino gambling in Ohio when they cast their ballots this November.

Issue 6, if approved, would create a gambling casino and resort in southwest Ohio near Wilmington with an estimated $200 million per year from the casino being distributed among to all of Ohio's counties based on population.

According to the casino issue's backers, the casino would generate about:

-- $1,478,000 a year for Erie County;

-- $1,105,576 a year for Huron County; and

-- $761,713 a year for Ottawa County.

In a stagnant economy with shrinking municipal and county budgets, such a boost in tax revenue is something that needs to be taken seriously.

Opponents of Issue 6 say gambling is morally bad, there are no guarantees on tax revenue and language in the measure would make it a part of Ohio's constitution.

Our state leaders have opposed legalized casino gambling at every turn, instead giving us expanded state lottery options such as the new Keno game that is being played at many area bars and restaurants. Despite those efforts to control gambling and reap benefits from lottery dollars, Ohio residents can still find a casino a short drive away in any direction over our state borders.

But as gambling becomes more socially acceptable and more neighboring states open casinos drawing Ohio residents and their money, measures such as Issue 6 are coming closer and closer to passing. One day, despite the state's opposition, a casino will become a reality in Ohio on terms that get passed by voters, not the state's terms.

Instead of rolling the dice and opposing casinos, Ohio's legislature needs to show some leadership and set the terms -- and the tax benefits -- of legalizing casino gambling and open the process to all Ohio communities that meet the criteria set forth by the state.

Although the issue now on the ballot is specific to a site in southwest Ohio, it opens the door for future casinos elsewhere in Ohio -- including in Erie County, where major tourist businesses have positioned themselves to take advantage of potential gambling tourism.

As we've said before in this space, casinos are coming. We might as well make sure we're set up to get a piece of the action.