It's past time Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland get off the dime. He has opposed legalized casino gambling in the state to the detriment of Ohio's economy while at the same time supporting expansion of the state's lottery operations, bringing Keno to the state last year. His dueling positions on gambling never made a whole lot of sense, but times have changed and Strickland appears to be moving quickly to change his stand.
He's gone wobbly in his opposition as the state's budget deficit reaches new record. In 2006, as a candidate for governor, Strickland opposed the slot machine legislation, adopting a position similar to U.S. Sen. George Voinovich's anti-gambling stand. But last month Strickland reversed his position on slot machines.
Competing interests are competing to get casino gambling on the general election ballot in November. Strickland has said some of these plans fall short of expectations, and we agree with that. Any casino gambling legislation or ballot initiative should give equal opportunities across the state, including right here in Vacationland. But while Strickland has said what he doesn't like, he has not put forward his own proposal for legalized casino gambling in Ohio. We think it's high time he does.
Faced with a massive budget deficit and the prospect of either huge and painful cuts in social services across the state, or a tax increase, or both, Strickland appears to be painted into a corner on the issue. The governor should take a strong stand and make sure it serves all the people in the state, not just some in a few selected cities.
A good place to start might be the bill backed by State Rep. Dennis Murray, D-Sandusky, who is at least looking for something that would benefit the Ohio's central Lake Erie coast, where tourists visit anyway, rather than the traditional Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati axis.