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Issue 3 Secures Significant Win in Ohio

Pledging thousands of new employment opportunities and hundred of millions of dollars for Ohio's coffers, supporters of a $1 billion casino secured an overwhelming triumph on November 3rd, 2009 that has evaded four other previous casino plans in the past two decades.

Ohio voters gave their approval to Issue 3 with. 1.66 million voters in favor of a constitutional change or fifty-three percent of all votes cast, and 1.48 million, or forty-seven percent against, according to the information gathered by the Secretary of State's office. The casino plan, which is supported by Penn National Gaming Inc. (NASDAQ:PENN) and Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland sports team, calls for full-fledged casino establishments in Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus and Cleveland.

The office of Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's office said that the overall turnout of voters stood at forty percent with about 3.2 million of Ohio's duly registered eight million voters going to the polls.

Other plans for legalized gaming in the state of Ohio have been dismissed four times by state voters since 1990, the latest coming just last year when sixty-three percent of voters dismissed plans for constructing a casino resort in Clinton County worth $600 million.

Supporters of the plan pledge to produce thirty-four new employment opportunities in Ohio and give $651 million annually in tax gaming revenue to the counties in Ohio based on a thirty-three percent tax rate.

Issue 3 critics like TruthPac, which is a group supported by the Ohio horse racing industry and rival casinos, voiced their criticism over what they believe a syndicated gaming monopoly in the works that would affect the economy of the host cities and spark a drastic rise in social problems like crime and gaming addiction.

Unlike in other cities involve in the discussions over the casino plan, influential business organizations in Columbus came out against Issue 3 solidly. Mayor Mike Coleman did not publicly campaign against Issue 3 but disclosed that he voted no on the issue.

Support for Issue 3 was largely concentrated in the northeast and southwest portion of Ohio while all seven counties in Central Ohio were among the fifty-eight counties in the state that gave the plan a thumbs-down.

In contrast, support for the plan in Cuyahoga County, the state of Ohio's most populous county and a location for one of the four casino facilities, made for a landslide vote with 65% of voters saying yes to the plan. As Election Day comes closer a poll conducted by the Quinnipiac Institute showed roughly 6 in 10 Ohio voters supported the plan.

A poll conducted in July 2009 found 61% support, a margin that dropped only to 58% in mid-September 2009. Critics released an internal poll closer to the Election Day that showed both sides within a reachable distance, but Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee maintained their belief and confidence that the results of the vote will be in their favor before Election Day.

The committee said on a statement released late Tuesday night called the casino decision a good win for the state, pledging to fully cooperate with state legislators to create a legislation that will ensure the way for a well-regulated casino gaming industry. Supports said that construction can begin next year and it will open in 2012.

TruthPac spokesperson Sandy Theis pointed to strong support in Cincinnati and Cleveland to the group loss on the issue. Two other issues on the ballot passed as well. Issue one, which called for releasing bonds to finance a single-time bonus for veterans of conflicts since the Persian Gulf War, passed with seventy-two percent support. Issue 2, which creates the framework for a statewide livestock care standards board, secured a 64% support.


11/19/2009 23:24 PM
Ann Pettersson