Casino Deal Would Put Issue to Bed

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Photo: Penn National

Columbus Hollywood Casino

By the end of today Ohio’s long debate over casino gambling could be over.   After several failed attempts casino developers in 2009 finally convinced voters to allow the construction of four casinos around the state.

But the fight did not end there.

Columbus leaders vowed to stop a planned casino in the Arena District, so the developer went back to the ballot and convinced voters to move it to the west-side of the city.

But the fight did not end there.

Developer Penn National demanded tax breaks and other incentives for agreeing to move or it would not annex the property to the city, costing Columbus $8 million a year. Columbus threatened to block water and sewer service.  But earlier this month the city and Penn National agreed to an annexation settlement.

But the fight did not end there.

The Kasich administration says the developers received too good of a deal and demanded additional money. It and lawmakers vowed to tax casinos on money wagered by gamblers, not revenue after winnings are paid. The developer of the Cincinnati and Cleveland casinos, Rock Gaming,  stopped construction and threatened to build smaller facilities and employ fewer people than promised. Now it looks like Rock Gaming has struck a deal with the governor and Penn National appears close.   If the deal holds, the fight could end here.

But maybe not.

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