Kasich Budget: Gambling Revenues $1 Billion Less Than Promised

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During the 2009 campaign to allow the casinos in Ohio's major cities, the Ohio Department of Taxation estimated the casinos would generate $1.9 billion, or about twice the money now projected.(Photo: Flickr)
During the 2009 campaign to allow the casinos in Ohio's major cities, the Ohio Department of Taxation estimated the casinos would generate $1.9 billion, or about twice the money now projected.(Photo: Flickr)

The Ohio Casino Control Commission says statewide casino revenues dropped last month by more than $3-million compared to December figures. State officials say the casinos are generating far less revenue than gambling supporters promised voters during the 2009 campaign that led to Ohio’s four casinos.

During a 2009 campaign to persuade voters to approve casino gambling, the Ohio Department of Taxation projected casino taxes would produce $1.9 billion a year.

But, a two year budget proposal released earlier this week by Governor John Kasich anticipates only half as much revenue. It projects the state’s four casinos will produce just less than a billion dollars.

Democratic strategist Sandy Theis spoke for casino opponents during the 2009 campaign. Her message was then, and is now, that casino supporters oversold Ohio voters.

“But, it was very clear from the beginning that they would do anything or say anything to win and promising all that revenue and all those jobs was their primary argument.” Says Theis

But, casino operators say the gambling landscape in Ohio changed after those 2009 revenue projections. Bob Tenenbaum speaks for Penn National Gaming, operator of casinos in Columbus and Toledo. He says the approval of slot machine-like devices at seven Ohio racetracks diverted some gamblers and their money away from casinos.

“Video lottery terminals at the racetracks, that would probably reduce casino tax revenue by about a half billion dollars. So, right there you’ve got probably half of the difference between the 2009 estimate and the new estimate from the state.” Says Tenenbaum.

That still leaves another half billion dollars between 2009 projections and what the governor now predicts.

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