Gambling issue voted down

Seth Roy

Don’t bet on seeing slot machines in Ohio any time soon.

Ohio Learn and Earn, an initiative to legalize gambling, was decisively rejected. As of press time, 57 percent of the vote was no, while 43 percent voted yes.

Rob Walgate, outreach director for the American Policies Roundtable, which opposed the issue, said Ohio’s citizens made the right choice.

“We’re very pleased,” he said. “We’re appreciative of the people of Ohio.”

If the issue had passed, the Vote Yes on Issue 3 Committee said it would have provided scholarships and grants for every student in Ohio by 2021. The top 5 percent of every class would have received grants starting in 2009.

About 31,000 slot machines would have been placed in the state had Issue 3 passed. The Vote Yes Committee said it would have raised $852 million for education.

Walgate said his group will continue to look at how to improve higher education’s funding problems.

Michael Caputo of the Vote Yes Committee said the issue’s failing will only hurt the state.

“There are two things Ohio does well,” he said. “Export young people and export jobs.”

He said that if the issue had passed, 12,000 to 15,000 jobs would have been created instantly.

Caputo said problems in funding for higher education will have to be solved in a different way.

“This flame is going to burn for a while,” he said. “The only thing left is raising taxes.”

Kent City Schools Superintendent Marc Crail predicted Learn and Earn’s fate before the polls closed yesterday.

“I suspect that this one’s going to go down in flames,” he said.

Crail said he had no problem with college funds being drawn from gambling.

“I suspect people are going to gamble whether they go up to Windsor (Canada) … or drive to the race track,” he said. “I’d rather get money from vices than from hard-working (citizens’) income taxes.”

Kent City Council member Garret Ferrara said he thinks masking gambling under the guise of higher education funding isn’t the right way to go.

“I’m all for gambling,” he said at a Coffee with Council event held yesterday in Eastway. “But I don’t think this is the answer.”

Had the issue passed, counties across Ohio would have received money for their general funds.

Portage County would have received about $1.5 million for economic development if the issue passed, according to documents on

Gambling has been on the ballot before, and has yet to pass.

Caputo said it’s only a matter of time before gambling is legal in Ohio.

“Ohio is a state of gamblers,” he said. “It’s not going to take 10 years to come back.”

Contact public affairs reporter Seth Roy at [email protected].