ROUNDTABLE: OHIO CASINOS ESCAPE REAL ACCOUNTABILITY June 04 2010
Rob Walgate, 440-572-1796
Columbus – In the middle of the night Ohio lawmakers passed the first major casino legislation in the history of the state. The legislation fails to establish an effective, transparent accounting mechanism that will give regulators, lawmakers, and taxing authorities the ability to see the real revenue conducted in the Ohio casinos. This accounting is essential because Ohio voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring 33% of casino revenues be paid out in taxes. These tax dollars are committed to local counties and municipalities.
“The weakest portion of this bill is one that carries the most importance in terms of accountability. There is no way to know for sure casinos will pay their required taxes if the state has no way to track casino gross revenues. That requires some kind of electronic accounting of what is happening inside those facilities every single day” stated Melanie Elsey, Legislative Director of the American Policy Roundtable.
The new legislation permits casino financial information by Ohio’s tax commission to remain confidential, outside of public or legislative review. “Where is the transparency in that? If casino operators have nothing to hide then why are they hiding? Why are legislators permitting special treatment to the casino industry?”
House Republicans tried to amend the bill to require the tracking of gross casino revenues with a simple electronic card for purchases and winnings. It also would have required that the audit reports to be a public record. The measure was blocked on the House floor last week with a vote of 51 – 47.
The Ohio Roundtable is a non-profit independent public policy organization. Mrs. Elsey is National Legislative Director for the American Policy Roundtable, the parent company of the Ohio Roundtable, founded in 1980.