Ohio Gambling Proposal
Ohio Gambling Proposal
Information gathered by the American Policy Roundtable

So what's the Ohio gambling debate? Since 1988, the gambling industry has been trying to open up shop in Ohio. The General Assembly has turned down repeated legislation to legalize gambling in Ohio. Ohio voters turned down ballot initiates in 1990, 1996 and 2006...

Read Senate Bill 125 (as introduced)

Read House Bill 118 (as introduced)

Instant racing plan rekindles gambling debate
Source: Wilmington News  Journal
April 25, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State lawmakers are pushing a plan to allow Ohio's seven horse tracks to install machines that take bets on horse races that have already been run, an effort that comes months after voters defeated a separate proposal to expand gambling in the state.

So-called instant racing terminals give gamblers the winning percentages of jockeys, trainers and horses. Dates and locations of the races and names of horses remain hidden. The idea is to allow bets on horse races at any time, rather than waiting for live races.

Republican-sponsored bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate. The GOP controls both chambers.

In November, Ohio voters turned down a ballot measure to allow slot machines at Ohio race tracks. It was the third time since 1990 that voters defeated efforts to expand gambling.

A goal of the instant racing proposal is to help boost the state's ailing horse racing industry as well as associated farmers, trainers, breeders and jockeys, said state Sen. Steve Stivers of Columbus, who introduced the Senate version of the bill.

Rep. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati sponsored the House bill and said winnings in instant racing terminals are divided among players rather than going solely into the pocket of a single winner. That distinction means that instant racing can be added to a class of gambling - which includes horse racing - that is already legal in the state, he said.

'To the untrained eye it looks like a slot machine, but it doesn't play like a slot machine,' Seitz said.

Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, is reviewing the proposals and has not taken a position on the issue, spokesman Keith Dailey said. The Senate version has three Democratic co-sponsors.

Instant racing is legal in two states - Arkansas and Oregon - and is under consideration in a handful of others, including California, Virginia, Nebraska and Maryland.

About 57 percent of Ohio voters defeated the slots proposal last fall, which was backed by a group of racetrack owners and casino developers and would have allowed video slot machines at horse tracks and at two freestanding sites in downtown Cleveland.

'To assume people are against horse racing because they voted against slot machines and casinos is a huge jump,' said Stivers, who added that he voted against the November gambling proposal. He said instant racing, unlike slot machines, involves skill and is not simply a game of chance.

Charles Ruma, owner of the Beulah Park track suburban Columbus and chairman of last year's failed campaign, said his business is down 35 percent amid expanded gambling in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana. He supports the instant racing proposal, which he said could help draw bigger crowds to Ohio's struggling horse racing industry.

'We're hopeful this will at least give us a Band-Aid while we search for alternative means of gambling,' Ruma said.

Seitz said he expects his bill to move quickly after the state's two-year operating budget is approved in June. Stivers' bill, introduced last month, is before the Senate Finance Committee.

Rob Walgate, vice president of the Ohio Roundtable, a public policy group that has led opposition to previous slots proposals, said instant racing involves standing in front of a machine and betting against it individually - making it an odds-based system that's not allowed without amending the Ohio constitution.

'Very little information is provided up front,' he said. 'It's not skill-based at all.'

Seitz's bill calls for a portion of the proceeds from the machines to be returned to racetracks for horse racing purses, and a portion to go to the state's PASSPORT program, which pays for home health care for seniors eligible for Medicaid.

Quotes about Gambling

Gambling as an economic model doesn't work. - David Zanotti

Gambling is like a child's balloon, you can only fill it with so much air before it pops. -David Zanotti

Gambling (is) the sure way of getting nothing from something. - Wilson Mizner

I call the gambling industry the most predatory industry in the country, without a doubt. – Rob Walgate

One thing that remains constant when you look at the gambling industry is they never deliver what they promise in the long run.  But they take down a lot of people in the process. – Rob Walgate

The gambling industry doesn’t understand the meaning of “no”. – David Zanotti

Here’s the height of hypocrisy on this one: republicans and democrats are in the bed with the gambling industry the same. - David Zanotti

Gambling undermines the moral fiber of society. - Gordon B. Hinkley


Contact your state legislator:

Ohio House of Representatives

Ohio Senate


Read the text of Senate Bill 125, As Introduced

Read the text of House Bill 118, As Introduced

Books & Articles


Gambling in America, by Earl L. Grinols


Ohio Legislature to consider end-run on gambling issue, CantonRep.com 

Ohio Lawmakers Push New Gambling Bills, The Cincinnati Post

Gambling Grief, by the American Policy Roundtable

Other Information

Cleveland City Club Debate, between David Zanotti, President of the American Policy Roundtable and State Representative Chris Redfern

Debate on Indian Casinos, between David Zanotti, President of the American Policy Roundtable and Terry Casey, the consultant for the Shawnee Indian tribe

Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty




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