Ohio Slots Deal survives Legal Challenge – But One Hurdle remains

ohio-gov-john-kasichThe Ohio Supreme Court has upheld Gov. John Kasich’s decision to add slots-like video lottery terminals at the state’s seven racetracks. This shoots down an attempt by the Ohio Roundtable anti-gambling group to stop slots from spreading to racetracks.

Upholding a lower court’s decision, a majority of Ohio Supreme Court judges voted against the Ohio Roundtable, citing that the group wasn’t able to prove they had a “direct, personal stake” to sue.

“The negative effects of gambling that appellants allege do not constitute concrete injuries to appellants that are different in manner or degree from those caused to the general public, were not the state’s conduct, and cannot be redressed by the requested relief,” wrote Justice Judith French.

But judges did leave the door open for casino operator Frederick Kinsey to continue his legal challenge against the deal. The supreme court judges stated that the lower court shouldn’t have dismissed Kinsey’s argument without hearing everything he had to say. So his case will be heard again by the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

ohio-racetracks-slotsAccording to the Washington Times, Kinsey claims that an Ohio constitutional amendment in 2009 gives casinos exclusive rights to slots-like games. Furthermore, he believes that allowing racetracks to have slot machines violates his equal-protection rights to open casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and/or Toledo.

Going back to Roundtable’s lawsuit, it was launched by a gambling addict against Kasich, the Lottery Commission, the Casino Control Commission and the state tax commissioner’s office. The suit claims that it was unconstitutional for Kasich to expand slot machines without allowing voters to weigh in. The lawsuit also stated that lotery proceeds should go to Ohio’s educational fund, rather than casino operations as per Kasich’s deal.

“The Ohio Supreme Court and the lower courts have once again slammed the door on Ohio citizens and Ohio taxpayers,” said Rob Walgate, VP of Roundtable. The group will now try to see what kind of legal actions they can take.

For now, the main hurdle to the slots deal going through remains Kinsey’s continuing lawsuit. But Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, is confident that they will also win this challenge too.