September 10, 2008

From the Desk of Phil Burress
President of Citizens for Community Values

Citizens’ E-Courier · September 10, 2008

Just what part of “NO” don’t these casinos understand?

They told us in 1973 that approving a state-run lottery would solve our education funding crisis. Look where that has gotten us. Since then, Ohio voters seem to have learned their lesson and voted down three separate attempts to build casinos in the buckeye state. So please don’t be fooled by the latest and greatest gambling scheme.

Once again, a casino wanna-be is promising vast amounts of wealth, economic development, and prosperity if Ohioans will just vote to allow them to build it. Opponents are calling it just another gimmick to try to wear voters down and get enough of them to finally saying YES. Don’t buy it!

Currently, the Ohio constitution prohibits most forms of gambling beyond simple games of chance and charity bingo. Since 1990, casinos have attempted on three occasions to expand gambling and failed each time by significant margins.

The proposal before Ohio voters on November 4 – ISSUE 6 – will allow one stand-alone casino and mega-resort along I-71 between Cincinnati and Columbus near Wilmington, Clinton County, Ohio.

Please read the Columbus Dispatch editorial below that effectively explains how this new and improved casino deal is really just another scam on the Ohio voters.

The Columbus Dispatch

Stacked deck
Casinos issue is a bad deal all around for Ohio voters

Wednesday,  August 27, 2008

If on Election Day voters say yes to Issue 6, which amends the Ohio Constitution to allow a casino to be built in Clinton County, it will open the possibility that Indian casinos will follow. And if that happens, the Clinton County casino might get off the hook for paying any state and local taxes, eliminating the $240 million in tax revenues that casino proponents promise would be generated and divvied up among all 88 Ohio counties.

The opposing sides on this issue disagree on the likelihood of this outcome, but the fact that Issue 6 contains such a tax-dodge provision is reason enough for voters to say no.

At present, Indian tribes cannot open casinos in Ohio, because casino gambling is banned. But if voters were to approve the Clinton County casino, Indian tribes would have the right, under federal law, to open additional casinos, as long as the tribes can meet federal standards of proof that they have historical roots in the state.

In April, the Eastern Shawnee tribe in Oklahoma submitted applications with the U.S. Department of Interior to establish such a historical claim in Ohio and to acquire land near Monroe in Butler County and Botkins in Shelby County for casinos.

Indian casinos cannot be taxed, though federal law does allow states to negotiate deals with tribes for payments in lieu of taxes.

Issue 6 says that if the Clinton County casino is approved, it will pay a 30 percent tax rate, producing the estimated $240 million for Ohio’s counties. But another provision says that the casino cannot be taxed at a rate any higher than other Ohio casinos. So if the Eastern Shawnee succeed in winning approval for a casino, the Clinton County casino would pay the same tax rate as the Indian casinos: zero.

That would be wonderful news for out-of-state casino developer Lyle Berman, who is prepared to spend millions to pass Issue 6 and build the Clinton County casino. He could take 100 percent of his profits and carry them back to his home base in Minnesota, leaving Ohio with nothing but the other fruits of casinos: gambling addiction and financial ruin for vulnerable Ohioans.

The pro-casino campaign, MyOhioNow.com, admits that it erred in phrasing the issue and said it is working to fix the wording. But there’s no way to do so now that the Ohio Ballot Board has approved the language and the deadline for certification has passed.

And why include that provision at all unless somebody anticipated using it down the road?

Berman’s company, Lakes Entertainment Inc., mainly develops Indian casinos. Yet, “Lakes Entertainment would never be in support of an Indian casino in Ohio,” Berman told The Dispatch.

Sure. But if he changed his mind, Issue 6 would leave him sitting pretty, and Ohioans would be the suckers.

Copyright © 2008, The Columbus Dispatch