Intentions for Issue 3 set to be carried out within next six months

Theresa Edwards

Casino laws, designs await development

Ohioans voted Nov. 3 to allow construction of casinos in four of Ohio’s major cities – after voting ‘no’ on similar issues four times in the past 20 years.

According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Web site, of about 8 million registered voters in Ohio, about 3.2 million participated in the election.

In comparison with last year’s voter turnout, which was near 70 percent, this year the turnout was closer to 40 percent. In 2007, about 31 percent registered voters participated.

Rep. Kathleen Chandler (D-Kent) said she had a feeling Issue 3 was going to pass all along. She said she did not hear a lot of opposition except for the paid ads.

Herbert Asher, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University, said that because of the overall Ohio economy, the voters were more receptive to the argument about jobs and economic growth.

John Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, agreed.

“I think that’s an argument . particularly appealing given the high rates of unemployment in Ohio,” he said.

However, Green said he does not see those jobs appearing for a while.

Construction jobs will appear first, but additional laws must still be passed and the buildings need to be designed before anything else happens, Green said.

According to the constitutional amendment, the state’s General Assembly will pass laws to “facilitate the operation” of the new amendment.

“The legislature will develop rules over the next six months to oversee and regulate the casinos,” Chandler said. “They will be intended to carry out the intent of the ballot issue.”

The state constitution now allows one casino each in Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati, but not all those areas voted to approve the amendment.

Fifty-eight percent of voters in Franklin County, which includes Columbus, voted against the measure.

Green said Franklin County’s vote was a bit of a surprise.

Yet, there’s more to Franklin County than Columbus, he said.

“They have a rural character to them, so they have a much more conservative view,” Green said.

Asher said central Ohio is different in two ways.

He said the argument that casinos would bring jobs to Ohio was not as relevant in the Columbus area because its economy is doing better relative to the rest of the state.

In addition, it is located away from other gambling areas, and Asher said the Columbus area might not have been as receptive to the argument that Ohioans are gambling out of state.

“It’s not as if Ohioans aren’t gambling,” he said. “Ohioans are gambling. They’re gambling in other states. That became more obvious in certain parts of the state than others.”

Many counties on the southeast border of the state also voted against Issue 3.

Asher said it could be because part of the state is culturally more conservative, and there will not be a casino in that area.

“If you saw the casinos as a positive for economic development, that argument would not be as relevant in Southeast Ohio,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Theresa Edwards at [email protected]