It wasn’t easy but after many years of debate and several ballot issues gambling was legalized in Ohio. The Ohio slots will be in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati. Each casino will have up to 5,000 slot machines as well as poker, keno, craps and blackjack.
Slot Demo Voters approved legislation allowing the casinos to open in Ohio. In exchange each casino is required to pay a $50 million license fee and at least $250 million dollars must be spent on building each of the casinos. The gambling operators will also be required to pay the state 33% of all the proceeds from wagering.
Ohio slots and table game players will also be faced with some state implemented rules. This won’t be Las Vegas as no free alcoholic drinks will be permitted; no one under 21 many play any of the games and all casino floors will be non-smoking. In addition convicted felons will not be allowed to hold most positions within the casinos.
Currently two bills, Senate Bill 263 and House Bill 519, are under debate. The goal is to create an Ohio Casino Control Commission. The commission would regulate the gaming of Ohio slots and table games, and create casino gaming statutes. Copies of both the proposed legislation are posted on the Ohio General Assembly’s website.
The casino in Cleveland will be built downtown and will be operated by Dan Gilbert, who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA and Quicken Loans. Mr. Gilbert is planning to open a temporary casino in a closed department store located in downtown Cleveland until the actual casino building is completed.
The Columbus casino will also be operated by Dan Gilbert. Originally to be built near downtown Columbus the location was changed to another location that most in Columbus thought would be better served economically. Even though this issue effected only the Columbus casino it had to be placed on the ballot statewide. The issue easily passed in 2009 allowing the casino to be built in the newly proposed location.
The Cincinnati location will be run by Penn National Gaming who operates several casinos across the country. The hope here is that the Ohio slots will also bring in those from the south of the Ohio River.
The Toledo location will also be operated by Penn National Gaming. While no one can dispute Toledo’s need for an economic boost some fear this casino will be too close to the Detroit casinos. The Ohio slots probably won’t be a big enough draw to continually pull in those from Michigan.