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Ohio Casino and Card Room Gaming

Casinos were legalized in Ohio in November 2009 with the approval of the Four Casinos Ballot Initiative (Issue 3). It authorized the state to build commercial casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. The effort to bring gambling to Ohio began more than a decade earlier. It took three years for the first casinos to open their doors in 2012.

In 2004 and 2005, there were several proposals for casinos in Ohio, including at the state's horse tracks, but all stalled in the Ohio General Assembly.

In July 2006, the Learn and Earn Campaign proposed legislation that would place slot machines at the state's existing seven racetracks and authorize two casinos to be built in the Cleveland area. Legislation stipulated that 30% of the revenue from gaming would go to personal scholarship funds for every Ohio student. Opponents were concerned that the money from gambling would be misappropriated. The Learn and Earn Campaign was not approved on the 2006 November ballot.

In October 2007, a group looking to establish a casino off Interstate 71 in Clinton County collected the required number of signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. Issue 6 specifically authorized a casino in Clinton County, but didn't rule out other casinos. In November 2008, voters rejected Issue 6 in a statewide ballot.

In July 2009, Gov. Strickland and legislative leaders agreed to a deal that placed VLTs at Ohio's seven racetracks without a ballot vote. The Ohio Lottery Director was charged with executing the plan. In August 2009, the Lottery Commission announced a stipulation that the racetracks must each spend $80 million to improve their facilities within the next five years. The commission also dropped the age minimum for gambling from 21 to 18.

In July 2009, LetOhioVote.Org, a newly formed committee, petitioned the Supreme Court to affirm the rights of voters to decide whether VLTs should be placed at the racetracks. The measure was given the go-ahead to appear on the ballot, but was withdrawn once the casino law passed and the governor announced that he was planning to add over 17,000 slots at seven of the state's tracks.

The issue of placing VLTs at racetracks surfaced again in October 2011, when Gov. Kasich signed an executive order permitting the Ohio Lottery Commission to implement, on an expedited basis, rules governing the licensing of 17,500 VLTs at the state's seven tracks. Several big players teamed up with tracks across the state to develop VLT facilities.

Four years after legislation passed allowing casinos in Ohio, three casinos opened in 2012. The state's fourth casino opened in March 2013. The Hollywood Casino in Columbus, a Penn National project, opened in October 2012; the Hollywood Casino Toledo, also a Penn National project, opened on 29 May 2012. On 14 May 2012, the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland opened, and the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati opened on 5 March 2013.

In October 2014, the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati opened up a climate-controlled outdoor area that allowed patrons to smoke and gamble at the same time. Smoking is banned in the rest of the facility.

Ohio Casino and Card Room Gaming Properties

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