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Published: Thursday, 10/1/2009

Casino proponents make their case in Toledo

BLADE STAFF

A top official of the gaming company that is proposing to build a $250 million casino in Toledo was joined by former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and others in a forum Thursday morning to promote Issue 3 on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Eric Schippers, senior vice president of Penn National Gaming, said "categorically and unequivocally we will build" on the East Toledo site at I-75 if voters approve the issue.

Mr. Archer, also a former Michigan Supreme Court justice, said the three casinos in Detroit have been a boon for jobs and municipal tax income. Mr. Archer said later he is an investor in one of the partners in the casino plan, Rock Ventures LLC of Livonia, Mich.

"If we did not have casinos throwing off $100 million the city of Detroit would be in Chapter Nine bankruptcy," Mr. Archer said. "This casino will provide outstanding jobs to men and women who are unemployed in this great state."

Issue 3 would require Penn National and Rock Ventures to operate casinos in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

Brian McMahon, developer of the Crossroads of America site in Rossford, claimed the 40-acre site at the Maumee River is too small for a casino, and will not have a hotel attached to it. Mr. McMahon said he has doubts that the casino will be built.

Mr. Schippers said the casino will buy blocks of rooms in existing hotels rather than build its own. He portrayed Penn National as committed to helping Toledo businesses rather than operating as an island. He also said the casino would price its food and beverage at or above comparable offerings in Toledo so as not to undercut local businesses.

He said the casino will have a Hollywood theme, but was not ready to present architectural drawings.

About 30 people turned out for the early morning presentation at the Fifth Third Center organized by former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Andy Douglas and Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.



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