This is a huge win for the Ohio people who have been pushing for casinos. This may be the start of a new future for more states and Casinos!
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio voters hit hard by the economic downturn have approved casinos tied to new JOBs after a fifth try by gambling supporters in the past two decades.
Tuesday’s passage of Issue 3 marked a significant victory for Penn National Gaming Inc. and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who spent nearly $35 million promoting four big-city casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo as the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting unofficial results, Issue 3 passed 53 percent to 47 percent.
A giddy Gilbert vowed after Tuesday’s Cavs game to do ‘‘something special’’ for the state in return for its vote.
‘‘The reason we did this whole campaign is they told us they wanted casinos in urban cores, wanted jobs, wanted new construction, wanted taxes to stay local, and wanted to make sure it happens here,’’ he said.
Penn president David Wilmott predicted all four casinos would be built in a little over two years.
David Zanotti of the Ohio Policy Roundtable, who group had successfully fought back four earlier attempts, said, ‘‘It’s pretty obvious that the Ohio electorate bought into the whole culture of despair that’s going on with the economy.’’
Ohio becomes the 39th state to legalize casinos and a coveted prize that had held out among neighboring casino states Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. TruthPAC, backed by MTR Gaming Inc. chairman Jeffrey Jacobs, spent almost $6 million opposing the measure.
Tuesday’s vote — which followed four failed Ohio gambling issues in 20 years — was met with immediate resistance. State Rep. Lou Blessing, a Republican who fought the plan, said he plans to push a ballot issue next May that amends elements of the plan, collects more taxes from the casinos, and put the licenses up for bid.
Lawmakers cannot make changes to the casino outline without going to the ballot because it was inserted into the state Constitution.
‘‘I don’t know how even the newspaper that endorsed this issue could possibly object to that,’’ Blessing said. ‘‘There are some obvious problems that need to be fixed.’’
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