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Casinos not cash cow promised

When Ohio voters finally agreed a few years ago to allow casino gambling in their state, many did so with reservations. The referendum’s numbers – 53 percent voting in favor of casinos and 47 percent against – were not exactly a landslide.

But talk of major shots in the arm to casino communities’ economies as well as enormous infusions of tax income from gambling swayed enough votes to carry the day.

In part because of competition from electronic gambling at racetracks, the casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo have fallen far short of the promises, however.

According to published reports, the casinos have created fewer than half the 34,000 temporary construction jobs and permanent gambling ones that were touted.

During a two-year period, total tax income for local and state governments has been $518.6 million. Gambling interests had suggested $651 million would flow into government coffers every year.

If experience in other states, including West Virginia, is a guide, expect casino operators to ask for breaks from the state.

Legislators should say “no.” At the same time, they should begin planning for even less revenue from the casinos, again following a pattern seen in other states.

 

The Marietta Times