Though Issue 3 passed in Ohio by a margin of 6 percent, the debate is far from over when it comes to how this amendment will change the face of the state and the cities in which the casinos are slated to be built.
According to Michael E. Zatezalo, the managing director of Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter, there is an immense amount of work to be done before anyone can reap the benefits of tax dollars or increased tourism.
“First, the state legislature will have to set up the gaming commission,” he says. “And then they’re going to have to figure out the laws that they need to implement Issue 3, and what they’re going to leave to the gaming commission to pass in the way of rules.”
And that’s if no further amendments are put forth in the spring of 2010 to repeal or change Issue 3, which may include increasing the tax rates, the auctioning of casino licenses to the highest bidder instead of the drafters of Issue 3, or the option for the four cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo to veto their respective casino.
When the casinos finally do come to fruition, making them as profitable as possible for the owners and the state and integrating them into the existing regional economies will be yet another hurdle.
“What they have to try to do is capture two markets: one is the local people that are going outside the state to gamble, and second is the tourists from out of town,” Zatezalo says.
Smart Business learned more from Zatezalo about the future of gambling in Ohio.
What will be the impact of the passing of Issue 3 on businesses?
It depends on the business, where it’s located and what it does. Some of the businesses that are going to be vendors to the casino, of course, are positive about what’s happened. I’ve already had a couple of suppliers including a few from out of state contact me about licensing, asking what the state is going to do. Most vendors will need to get licensed to work with casinos. But right now it’s too soon to tell. The legislature has six months to come up with a regulatory scheme.
The racetracks are clearly going to be adversely impacted, because even if they do get the right to have VLTs (video lottery terminals), having a casino nearby is really problematical for them.
Charities are definitely going to be hurt. In any state where casinos have been legalized, charities have been adversely impacted. People are a lot less likely to go to bingo halls when they can go to a casino. Indiana’s casinos have had an adverse impact on charitable gambling in Ohio, and Issue 3 will probably have a further impact.