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Gov. Kasich says Ohio taxpayers deserve more than 'bad deal' with casino operators


Construction continues for the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, scheduled to open in the first half of 2012 with 2,000 slot machines and 60 table games.

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COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich says Ohio should get more money from casinos planned for Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo.

The Republican told reporters Wednesday he thinks taxpayers "got a bad deal" with casino operators.

The state on Thursday announced that it had hired two firms to advise on gaming policies and ways they can benefit Ohio. Spectrum Gaming Group of Linwood, N.J. and Moelis&Company of Los Angeles will be paid about $400 an hour.

The casino constitutional amendment approved by Ohio voters in 2009 requires casinos to pay one-time licensing fees of $50 million and a 33 percent tax on gross revenues.

If Kasich wants to raise those fees, he likely would need to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to change the law or approach operators individually to ask for more money up front.

"Are these casino operators, who are going to make a lot of money off the state of Ohio, are they willing to do a little bit to help us in the tough budget times?" Kasich asked. "Are they willing to give us a little more money to help our schools? ... What more are they willing to do, or do they think they've done enough?"

A spokesman for the developer of the Columbus and Toledo casinos said the current fees and tax rate are "very fair, very competitive."

Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for Penn National Gaming, said Ohio's taxpayers knew the terms of the deal when they approved Issue 3 in November 2009.

"That issue was one of the best-covered ballot issues in Ohio history," Tenenbaum said. "Included in the constitutional amendment were very competitive, very fair license fees and tax rates. Voters were very informed on this issue because they passed it this time. They voted it down the previous four times."

READ MORE: Kasich wants casinos to pay more

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