Matt Schuler, chief of staff for the Republican president of the Ohio Senate, has been appointed executive director of the Casino Control Commission. Commission members recruited the 44-year-old Gahanna resident after having trouble getting regulators from other states to take a similar job in Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Schuler’s duties will include overseeing the licensing process for four casinos in Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati. The casinos are scheduled to open between spring 2012 and spring 2013. “It is a great honor that you have asked me to do this,” Schuler told The Dispatch after the unanimous vote by the bipartisan seven-member panel. He later said that while it’s difficult leaving the Senate, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to build an agency of more than 150 workers from the ground up.

“It’s going to be a great challenge, and one we need to do right the first time,” Schuler said. The selection was supported and criticized along party lines, with Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern questioning Schuler’s qualifications. Commission chairwoman Jo Ann Davidson, a Republican, said that Schuler’s understanding of Ohio trumped gaming experience.

“We really had been going down the road of trying to bring somebody in with gaming experience. It’s really hard when they don’t really understand Ohio,” Davidson said. “Matt Schuler has a very firm handle on what you can do and what you can’t do.”