Casino gambling at racetracks to be proposed in state Legislature

Ohio State Rep. Louis Blessing Jr., a Cincinnati Republican, announced plans to introduce legislation in early 2009 to permit casinos, or at least slot machine, at the state’s seven racetracks.

“Ohio is losing too much money to out-of-state gambling interests,” Blessing said. “Ohio needs the revenues and the jobs casinos would bring.”

The draw of casino games also would boost attendance at the racetracks, which Blessing said have been suffering from declining revenues in recent years due to the out-of-state competition for gambling dollars.

Blessing also said he would support a new referendum to allow the building of casino resorts in Ohio. Proposed for next November, the new ballot initiative would come one year after the failure of Issue 6 last November. Unlike Issue 6, which proposed only a single casino resort near the central Ohio city of Wilmington, the new initiative would likely share the wealth by allowing casinos to be built in other parts of the state, including near Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Youngstown.

Days after Issue 6 was trounced by 63 percent of voters, pro-casino group MyOhioNow founders Dr. Brad Pressman and Rick Lertzman began visiting investors and gaming companies to raise funds for a November 2009 casino referendum.