Casino funds can be more than quick fix

Published 12:17 am Sunday, September 9, 2012

If you found a $100 bill in the street, what would you do with it? Would you use this money that you didn’t expect to have to simply pay bills? Or would you put this money toward something special you might not be able to afford otherwise, like taking a vacation or making a big purchase?

That is essentially the question facing the Lawrence County Commissioners when it comes to the revenue share from Ohio’s casino gambling.

Hopefully the commissioners will opt to do more than just spend it on the everyday costs of running the county government.

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Casinos in Cleveland and Toledo are already operating, with one in Columbus set to open in October and one in Cincinnati slated to begin in early 2013.

Thirty-three percent of the casinos’ gross revenue will be distributed to Ohio’s 88 counties, with the breakdown handled quarterly and made according to population.

So far, Lawrence County has received about $50,000 from this revenue stream and may get more than double that in next month’s distribution. Once all the casinos are up and going, the county is expected to receive more than $500,000 a year.

This would have minimal tangible impact if just used as a Band-Aid in the county’s $13.1 million budget because it would quickly be eaten up by salaries and other expenses the county would have to pay for either way.

But it could go a long way toward creating a dedicated revenue stream to promote economic development and tourism in the county.

This would provide a financial foundation that could be used for project that actually improves the quality of life for the citizens.

A system should be implemented that would allow the villages and other subdivisions to apply to the county for assistance with things that benefit the entire region.

The commissioners should commit now to a concept like this because it would take money that is unexpected and use it to build for the future rather than just maintaining the status quo.