Saturday, February 09, 2008

Turn Around Ohio.....with Club Keno!

In 2006 as a candidate for Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland vigorously opposed an amendment on the fall ballot legalizing casino gambling. The Earn-and-Learn Initiative would have sent a portion of the funds raised from casinos to fund Ohio public schools. I have long been a proponent of casino gambling. The tangibles benefits in instant revenue, jobs, tourism, hotels, restaurants, etc. are very significant. And a struggling state like Ohio needs any and all economic activity it can develop. Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, riverboats on the Ohio River, and now Kentucky have realized this truth. All have or are in the process of legalizing gambling.

For his part, Strickland is trying to wipe away Ohio's widening budget deficit with a video gambling game called Club Keno. It's like a mini super lotto game where players pick numbers while placing a wager, and numbers are drawn every few minutes or hours. But for some reason, Strickland is still claiming he is opposed to casino gambling. Why? Strickland is making a distinction without a difference. The Toledo Blame ran an unusually scathing editorial of a Democrat because of this Club Keno plan--going so far as to call it "hypocritical" of the anti-gambling Strickland to propose it.

I applaud Strickland for bringing some form of gambling to the table in Ohio. Ohio Republicans have shamefully been opposed to any form of gambling for reasons of family values. Gag me.

But make no mistake about it, Club Keno is most definitely a form of gambling. Just because it doesn't include Blackjack tables or Russian roulette, doesn't mean it isn't gambling. Strickland is certainly being disingenuous with this plan and needs to call it what everyone already knows it as--gambling. Strickland's main objection to legalized gambling appears to be the fear of rampant addiction and blowing an innocent kid's college fund. But the risk of addiction to Club Keno is as possible as addiction to Craps or Poker. (As is the potential for addiction to Ohio's SuperLotto or on Ohio's horse tracks).

And while Strickland is trying to solve Ohio's budget woes with increased use of gambling, he might as well bring full scale casino gambling to Ohio. Every year Ohio loses out on a great economic opportunity to keep gambling and associated tourism here in Ohio. Ohioans constantly travel to Detroit, Windsor, or West Virginia for gambling. And in the short term, the building and operation of big casinos could take a bite out of Ohio's 6% (and growing) unemployment rate. Another lost opportunity in Ohio.

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