COLUMBUS - It may be time for Ohio lawmakers to deal with the issue of slot machines and other forms of expanded gambling, Speaker of the House Larry Householder (R., Glenford) said yesterday.
That commission, which should start work in January, was something some anti-gambling lawmakers who'd acquiesced on the multi-state lottery latched onto. While stressing that the lottery vote is not a precursor of further expansion of gambling, Mr. Householder said the commission's findings could raise issues the legislature may need to deal with.
“There's been a lot of talk about social cost,” he said. “I think we have to weigh what the social costs are today.”
He pointed to riverboat gambling in Indiana, slot machines at West Virginia race tracks, casino gambling in Michigan and Canada, and moves in those directions by New York, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.
“We're going to be surrounded by folks who've legalized casino-type gambling,” he said. “I think the social costs are already here in the state of Ohio. We have to decide whether we want to participate in this type of thing, or we're going to continue to allow other states to basically pull Ohio dollars out of here while we pay the social costs 100 percent.”
He said he believes lawmakers would choose video lottery terminals, or slots, if it came down to choice between that and a significant tax increase.
House Minority Leader Dean DePiero (D., Parma) said it's too soon to know how his caucus might respond to discussions of gambling expansion.
“The gambling study was no more than a ploy put in the bill to justify many of the members breaking their lottery pledges,” he said. “The whole point of doing a gambling study is to find out what the impact would be, but just because everybody else is doing it, doesn't make it right.”
Mr. Householder met with reporters for a year-end review of his first-year as speaker, claiming a record of passing “family security” bills and pledging to remain the strategist of next year's legislative elections.
He pointed to the match-up of two incumbent lawmakers, Reps. Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island) and Tom Lendrum (R., Huron), as being “one for the ages.”