COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich has turned to a Toledo entrepreneur — and President Obama supporter — to help oversee Ohio’s still nascent casino gambling industry.
Will Lucas, 33, founder and CEO of Creadio, was named by the Republican governor to the Ohio Casino Control Commission that regulates and licenses the owners, dealers, and others associated with the state’s four voter-approved, Las Vegas-style casinos.
“I’ve been to casinos,” Mr. Lucas said. “I’ve hung out in Vegas. I don’t have a degree in casinos. I’m a regular Joe.”
He’s familiar with Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino Toledo on the city riverfront. The casino just marked its first anniversary of operation.
“It’s a beautiful place,” he said. “I don’t gamble. I’ve been to the restaurants. I watched the Final Four out there. I like the beautiful lights, all-hours-of-the-day atmosphere.”
The job pays $60,000 a year.
Mr. Lucas replaces Toledo attorney Peter Silverman, a Democrat, who said he would have preferred to stay on the commission.
Mr. Silverman was picked, in part, because of his known opposition to the 2009 constitutional amendment that authorized the four casinos in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.
He said he had no reason to believe that he was replaced because of some decision he made as a commission member.
“They said they wanted to give someone else an opportunity,” Mr. Silverman said.
Mr. Lucas said he does not recall how he voted on the casino ballot issue. “I may have voted against it,” he said.
Mr. Silverman said he has been satisfied how the commission has done its job, given that it began writing rules on how the process would work while casino construction was already under way.
“They stayed out of politics and have been very professional,” Mr. Silverman said.
“I’m satisfied [the casinos] are playing by the rules, but I think we should be looking at more things to help with the compulsory gambling process, which will take some figuring out.”
The commission is required to be bipartisan, and Mr. Lucas will hold one of two Democratic seats on the commission, all appointed by Mr. Kasich. The panel also consists of four Republicans and an independent.
His appointment will last through Feb. 21, 2017. He said it makes sense to have someone with his background on the panel given the casinos’ heavy reliance on technology in their daily operations.
“I will bring an entrepreneur’s eyes to the commission, somebody who’ll work to maintain the integrity of gambling in Ohio,” he said.
He sought out the appointment to the panel, his first real role in government.
“I have long-term political ambitions, but not in the near future,” said. “I’m concentrating on running my business.”
He founded the Toledo-based Creadio in 2007. It is an Internet streaming service that customizes radio and TV to help businesses promote their products to customers in house.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.