Over the years, multiple issues have been proposed that would bring LasVegas style gambling to Ohio’s biggest cities. This November, Issue 3 hits the ballot with support from some high profile backers, including Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. If passed, Issue 3 would allow four casinos to be built in four cities: Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Toledo. Despite the fact that Ohio voters have shown themselves to be anti-gambling for years, this plan seems to be the first to have a real chance in years.
On paper, the idea of a casino within a short drive seems like a good idea, but unfortunately, not all the facts about the casino have come to light. Supporters point to cities like St. Louis as the prime example of where casinos have revived the area, but what they fail to mention is that casinos built in Missouri pay an extremely large percentage of revenue in taxes, 42%. Pro-casino voters also claim that a 33% tax rate the casinos will pay will raise billions for the state, but compared to a new casino that will be built in Maryland at a 67% revenue tax, the city of Cleveland will not be receiving as much as promised.
Opponents say that out-of-state skilled workers will fill the 34,000 jobs created. Supporters counter that those workers will live in Ohio and pay taxes. That is all well and good, but it does not help those Ohioans in need of a job. There is also the inevitable fact that crime will rise as a result of the casinos. According to a recent University of Georgia study, cities in which casinos are built see their crime rate rise by an average of eight percent in the first three years alone. Add in the gambling aspect, and you can forget about Cleveland’s national safety ranking improving anytime soon.
Of all the legislation facing Ohioans this November, Issue 3 might be the most important. While it may seem that Issue 3 will be a financial winner for Ohio, the only people who will find their pockets lined will be high-profile developers and the casino owners themselves. One day, casinos might be a viable option for Ohio, but I hope that for our sake, the politicians come up with a much better proposal than this one.