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Citizens Shut Out as Ballot Board Surrenders to Casino Industry
August 20 2009

Rob Walgate, 440-572-1796

Columbus, Ohio – In a break of previous precedent, the Ohio Ballot Board today decided to hand both sides of the Issue 3 argument over to the casino industry. The Board had the opportunity to accept ballot argument language from either VoteNoCasinos, the citizen PAC, or TruthPAC, a group funded by casino owners and allies. In the 2006 and 2008 ballot issue elections, the Legislature had assigned the ballot argument language to VoteNoCasinos. This year, the Legsislature left the decision to the Ballot Board.

"Today's decision is a clear indication how deeply the casino culture has permeated the Ohio government," stated Melanie Elsey, Legislative Director for the Ohio Roundtable. "There was one key difference between the ballot language arguments. VoteNoCasinos' statement included the point that casino gambling creates addictions and ruins lives. The Ballot Board agreed to allow language that omits that argument, even though it appeared on previous ballot arguments and was contained in the Secretary of State's proposed language. Therefore, voters will not be reminded of the harm done to individuals and families when they go to the polls. The Board rejected that clear point of fact to protect the image of the gambling industry. Thus, the Ballot Board shut out the citizens of Ohio and bowed to the wishes of out of state casino operators."

The truth about "TruthPAC" is that it is secretly being run by Jeff Jacobs of Mountaineer Casino in West Virginia.  Mr. Jacobs and several casino allies, lobbyists and political consultants are running a campaign to defeat Issue 3. The pro-Issue 3 effort is backed and funded by Penn National, a second major casino interest. Penn National wants the constitutional right to open casinos in Ohio this year, but last year ran a massive campaign to defeat a similar ballot issue to open casinos in Ohio.  Thus, the Ohio ballot has been cluttered with endless casino turf control wars for the past several years. In every case since 1990, Ohio voters have rejected any and all attempts to legalize casino gambling in the state.

"What the ballot board did today was to surrender both sides of the argument to casino owners," stated Rob Walgate, Vice-President of the Roundtable. "That is clearly not the intention of the law in Ohio, but it once again proves the growing dominance of the casino gambling industry over every level of Ohio government. Not only do casino owners want a private monopoly in this state, they want monopoly control over the Legislature, the Governor's office, the Courts and the state constitution.  Their plan is clear. They want to own Ohio and could care less about the rule of law or the rights of the people."

The Roundtable has helped lead successful campaigns against expanded gambling in Ohio in 1990, 1996, 2006 and 2008. The Ohio Roundtable, a division of the American Policy Roundtable, is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy organization founded in 1980.