Ohio Issue 3: What is it?
Sept 24, 2009: Issue #3 is a proposed Amendment to the Ohio Constitution that will permit the construction of a total of four (4) casinos, one each in the cities of Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo. These would be built at a pre-determined (already determined) location. (1)
There have been many claims on both sides of this issue, both in defense of and in opposition to this proposed amendment; and if you’ve been anywhere near a radio or TV lately, you’ve more than likely been exposed to these adverts. But as Detective Sgt. Joe Friday (as played by Jack Webb) once famously said:
“No, there’s one thing you left out.”
So here are some facts.
First: The proposed amendment would create four first-class casinos in the State of Ohio. This is true, provided that the Gilbert Group (backing these proposed casinos) doesn’t back out of the project – as they did in a similar project in Kansas City.
Second: The casinos would create 34,000 Ohio jobs. This is misleading. First, it would create 34,000 jobs, but the source of this number makes no distinction between full-time jobs and part-time jobs. (2) What’s worse, that 34,000 jobs includes the 19,000 construction jobs which would be needed to build them. It only creates 15,000 permanent jobs. But let’s look at these jobs:
22% are food service or preparation. They pay $19,500.
20% are gaming dealers or slot key. They pay $21,700.
14% are machine servicers, cashiers or other gaming service. These pay $22,900
This accounts for a total of 56% of all jobs. Contrast this with the median household income in Columbus - $42,253.
Third: Under Issue #3 these casinos would be required to pay a 33% tax on all revenues generated. This is higher than most other businesses. (3) While factually accurate, this is also misleading. This amount, 33%, is below the average of casinos located outside of Atlantic City, Reno, or Las Vegas. And it is far below the average paid in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. In fact, in Maryland, Penn National agreed to a 67% tax rate on its new casino. (4,5)
Fourth: Provide $200 million in state job training to put Ohioans back to work. But nowhere in the Amendment does it state that it would require the casino operators to hire Ohioans. In fact, there are already radio adverts in New Jersey and Las Vegas asking for licensed, qualified operators who would be willing to relocate to Ohio. And our cost-of-living is far less than Las Vegas, Reno … or Atlantic City. (6)
Fifth: It would require each initial licensed casino operator to pay a $50 million dollar fee to be used for training. In other words, $50 million per casino. Since there would be four casinos, this would generate $200 million total. (6) However, this $50 million fee is far less than a similar casino in Illinois, which is paying a $400 million fee per casino. In Massachusetts, state officials there may be asking a fee of $500 million for each of two casinos. Total - $1 billion. (4)
Lastly, the proponents (those in favour) of Issue #3 are stating that it will not affect “charity nights” at the casinos. This is just plain wrong. Gambling in the State of Ohio falls under the purview of and is governed by the Ohio Revised Code. Specifically, section 2915.02. More specifically, section 2915.02D(1)(b). (7)
There can be no doubt that our great state, Ohio, is suffering along with the rest of our great Country in the midst of this economic downturn. Of that, there can be no doubt whatsoever. While technically any job is better than none, there are far too many things about Issue #3 that give me pause to allow me to vote for it.
However, this article is not about my personal opinion, it is about as Joe Friday said “The facts.” I believe in this instance that a clear open-minded evaluation of the facts will lead you to vote no on Issue #3.
NOTE: Some of these links are direct links to .PDF files. I have nothing against .PDF files, but you will need a reader that can handle these files. The most popular is Adobe Acrobat, and can be downloaded or updated here: http://get.adobe.com/reader/ Where the link is to an actual .PDF file, there will be a red, bold asterisk (*) following the link.
1) http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/ballotboard/2009/3-text.pdf (*)
3) http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/ballotboard/2009/3-official_argument_for.pdf (*)
6) http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/ballotboard/2009/3-final_language.pdf (*)