Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio Roundtable filed suit today in Franklin County Court to stop Governor John Kasich’s plan to open racetrack casinos, expand the Ohio Lottery and absolve casino owners of tax liabilities. All these actions require amending the Ohio Constitution, according to Rob Walgate, Vice-President of the Ohio Roundtable and lead plaintiff in the suit.
“The Governor has failed to honor his oath of office to uphold the rule of law by abiding by the Constitution,” Walgate stated. “He has taken short cuts and negotiated back room deals. He has attempted to use legislative action to deconstruct specific sections of the Constitution and implement his will. He has thumbed his nose at the rule of law and the will of Ohioans expressed at the ballot box since 1973.”
The Roundtable has opposed the expansion of casino gambling in Ohio since 1988 and has led ballot campaigns in 1990, 1996, 2006, 2008 and 2009. Ohio voters rejected casino style gambling including racetrack casinos in four consecutive ballot fights. A measure to legalize four casinos passed in the off-election year of 2009, largely due to low voter turn out and a Republican led campaign to legalize casinos.
In 2002, the Roundtable also sued over the illegal expansion of the Ohio Lottery in the Mega-Millions case. In that case the Courts permitted the lottery expansion, but upheld the Roundtable’s claims that the Legislature had violated constitutional mandates by taking Lottery proceeds from public education. At least forty-one million dollars were returned to public education coffers as a result of that litigation.
“In 2009, Ohio voters passed a very specific amendment, written by the gambling industry, to legalize four casinos. It took an amendment in 2010 to move one of those locations in Columbus. The changes the Governor wants to make today must also go through the same legal process. He cannot abandon the rule of law just to turn a fast buck for the state. ” Walgate concluded.
The Roundtable litigation contains numerous claims against the Governor, Ohio Gambling Commission and Ohio Tax Commissioner. The case filed in Franklin County Court will most likely face appeals all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The Ohio Roundtable is a division of the American Policy Roundtable an independent, non-partisan, non-profit education and research organization founded in 1980.