COLUMBUS - A group hoping to convince voters to allow slot machines in Ohio by linking them to college scholarships will test its first television commercial in the Toledo market beginning today.
"Toledo is very diverse in its voting record," said David Hopcraft, spokesman for the Ohio Learn and Earn Committee. "It's close to Detroit, Indiana, and Windsor, and, like any other product or retailer, we want to test our message."
After the 30-second spot runs for about three weeks on broadcast and cable TV, the effort financed by the state's seven racetracks and a pair of Cleveland developers plans to poll voters to see if the message needs to be reworked before going statewide.
Mr. Hopcraft declined to say how much the group will spend on this media buy.
Unlike current radio ads, which never mention gambling, the Toledo ad does explain where the state would get the revenue to send students on the higher-education track to in-state colleges or universities.
"By dedicating part of the revenue from limited and state-regulated slot machines, we can give every child the opportunity to earn college tuition, almost a billion a year without raising taxes," says a series of ever-changing faces representing Ohio parents and their children in the ad.
David Zanotti, president of the Ohio Roundtable and a gambling opponent, said the ad is false advertising by suggesting that all children could benefit when, at least during the first 12 years, only the top 5 percent of graduating classes would qualify.
"They're down in the polls now," he said. "People aren't buying this thing. It's a question of how big a lie they can tell before the facts catch up with them. They'll get plenty of rope, plenty enough to hang themselves."
Mr. Hopcraft said the poll will not be used to second-guess whether to proceed with a proposed constitutional amendment for the Nov. 7 ballot. Petitions must be filed with the secretary of state's office by Aug. 9.
"Nothing will stop us from filing petitions," he said. "We have over 600,000 signatures to date. We will qualify in close to 70 counties. We're well on our way."
A minimum of 322,899 signatures must be found to be those of valid registered voters for the proposed amendment to be certified for the ballot.
The proposal calls for up to 3,500 slot machines at each of the state's racetracks, including Toledo's Raceway Park, and at two Cleveland riverfront locations.
The proposal, after four years, would allow Cuyahoga County voters to add casino-style table games at the slot machine parlors in their county.
Thirty percent of the gross revenue would be earmarked for scholarships and an additional 15 percent would go toward local economic development projects, enhanced racing prizes, and gambling addiction programs.
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A group hoping to convince voters to allow slot machines in Ohio by linking them to college scholarships will test its first television commercial in the Toledo market beginning today. "Toledo is very diverse in its voting record," said David Hopcraft, spokesman for the Ohio Learn and Earn Committee.