Forget the past, say pollsters, Ohioans are ready to approve expanded gambling, whether it be casinos or racinos.
For the past two decades, Ohio voters have rejected all efforts to expand gambling but the current economic blues with vast unemployment has caused a shift in thinking, say gambling supporters.
"First and foremost," said Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for the Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee, "it is the economic situation."
In a poll commissioned by the state’s major newspapers, the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati found that 59 percent of the likely voters favored the casino issue while 38 percent were opposed. Proposed are four major casinos to be located in major cities.
And an even greater number supported putting slot machines in the state’s seven racetracks. Pollsters found that 62 percent of respondents were in favor while only 33 percent opposed. The state’s Supreme Court struck down an executive order filed by Gov. Ted Strickland that authorized racetrack slots and insisted the matter should be placed on a ballot.
Despite the recent polling, opponents of gambling expansion warned the fight was not over. The recent polling, they insist, might not hold true when the actual votes are counted in November.
They point out that in 2006, pre-election polls favored racetrack slots, 47.6 percent to 38.2 percent, according to a poll conducted by the University of Akron. However, just two weeks later the question failed 57 percent to 43 percent.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier