Casino Ballot Initiative Possible for November 2008
This week the Cleveland-based group "My Ohio Now" will submit proposed ballot initiative language and 2,000 supporting signatures to Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township). The initiative would amend the Ohio Constitution in order to allow the group to build a $600 million casino/resort on a 94-acre site off Interstate 71 in southeastern Clinton County. If approved, the group will circulate petitions with a view to getting the issue on the November 2008 general election ballot.
The promoters say the casino/resort would employ nearly 5,000 and generate over $200,000,000 in tax revenues, which they propose to divide between Ohio's 88 counties. “We call the plan 'Share The Wealth,'" said Dr. Brad Pressman, one of two partners in the venture. "Local counties can spend the dollars in their local areas as they deem appropriate."
“This will be one of the largest developments in Ohio in several decades. We will employ union help where possible and offer prevailing wages in the construction of this massive complex,” said Rick Lertzman, the other partner. “When this complex opens, there will be over 5000 jobs that offer an average salary of $34,000 [and] will also include health coverage, 401K plans, and tuition reimbursement.”
The promoters also argue that the casino complex will be a magnet for Ohio business, envisioning such subsidiary development as retail stores, restaurants, a spa, and even a NASCAR speedway. They also point out that the other Great Lakes states all have casinos already.
Voters soundly defeated the "Ohio Earn & Learn" ballot proposal to allow slot machines at race tracks and other locations last November, despite the promise of putting revenues into economic development and schools. Other proposals to expand gambling in the state were defeated by big margins in 1990 and 1996. Although Gov. Ted Strickland (D) hasn't responded directly to this latest proposal, his spokesman Keith Dailey noted that "the governor does not support any expansion of gambling in Ohio."