Gambling casino shoved down our throat

by James R. Hanson

If you’re not overwhelmed by the temporary construction jobs they will provide, and believe in a respectable future for the state, you will picture those four gambling derricks with their money-sucking pumps working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to pull income out of Ohioans’ purses to permanently shrink Ohio’s economic and moral stature. Even Atlantic City casinos are having a hard time. Ohio casinos will suck Ohio money. Money that won’t be there for something else.

We’ve already been taken for a ride and our constitution perverted. Not a single Central Ohio county voted to have a money-sucker but we got one anyway, done by outsiders who spent a huge amount of money to get it done, with the idea they would make it the central attraction of the Arena District–a place for families and sports fans with an atmosphere that has been conscientiously built upon for several years now. It would be like putting a python in the pen with your golden retriever just to watch the fun.

Issue 2 should be voted down because it is not the issue that should be on the ballot next Tuesday. It should have been one to give Central Ohio a chance to reject a casino by changing last fall’s constitutional amendment to eliminate the Columbus location, period.

John Kasich, GOP candidate for governor, favors Issue 2, he says, because “It does not expand gambling in any way. I support Issue 2 because it permits local control of economic development in the community.”

Kasich is siding with the big money when he says that. He acts as if four casinos are a done deal, fageddaboudit. It’s not a done deal if Issue 2 fails and the ball is back in the Arena District’s court. Then that power (and it is a power) will be in a position to back the majority that doesn’t want a casino in Central Ohio by joining in a constitutional amendment for the November ballot to take Columbus off the list. The pro-gambling cities should like this. The other three cities don’t want a competitor sitting at the mid-point of Interstate 71, do they? Do they, Mister Gilbert?

Voters should understand that this time as they go to the polls, simply by giving up they will be handing Penn National Gaming, Inc., a huge source of power which a corporation didn’t have when the first vote occurred. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared corporations to be “persons” with the First Amendment right to spend as much money as they want in support of political candidates. Candidate Kasich, with his experience advising Wall Street, knows to tip his hat to the money.

He says that Issue 2 permits local control of economic development in the community, but what if Penn National has a different idea? If the casino people need the law changed will they be able to get 24-hour seven-days-a-week drinking privileges, when no other bars can do that? Or, for fairness, get the law changed so that everyone gets to do that? Las Vegas is their model. Does “what happens in Columbus stay in Columbus?” With police forces depleted by lack of tax revenue, and more and more people unable to buy groceries, what’s the prospect?

And how is it local control when a money corporation can’t get something done through the legislative process (as in democratic republic) and spends millions of dollars to get people to buy a sexy-looking constitutional issue and the people who specifically voted against it get a money pump shoved down their throat?

For something that will change the character of the state, against our will and our vote, this should not be tolerated without a lot more thought than has been given it thus far. The key to that at the present moment is to vote “NO” on Issue 2.

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