July 22, 2008

Casino Vote Could Hit Home

By Bob Blake, The Lima News, Ohio

Jul. 22--LIMA -- A single-site casino proposal is heading toward a possible referendum on the November ballot. A pair of Allen County commissioners see the issue being one that could spur further action on the stalled casino effort locally.

Commissioners Sam Bassitt and Greg Sneary said the effort by MyOhioNow.com supporters is focused on getting enough signatures to place it on the November ballot. The comments came during a meeting of the Lima Rotary Club.

"My sense is I think it will probably be on the ballot. I'm not sure it will be approved once it gets on," Bassitt said. "I think it has a better chance than previous efforts since it has a different approach. The previous efforts tended to benefit a small group of people and this tends to benefit a larger segment of people. It's up to the voters."

The proposal is a constitutional amendment that permits one casino, located off Interstate 71, in Clinton County. More than $211 million in taxes would be disbursed to all 88 of Ohio's counties based on population, according to the group's Web site. Before any other casinos could be opened, the state constitution would have to be amended again.

"I think if the casino is approved on the ballot it will open the door to something happening here because the major obstacle in the past is that casinos did not exist in Ohio and they were voted down," Bassitt said. "Now if they were voted up it makes it more likely."

The group's Web site also says more than 5,000 permanent jobs will be created as part of the nearly $600 million investment.

"We'll have to see exactly what happens," Sneary said. "It would seem to open the door to the possibility."

You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.


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