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Legislature's Plan to Allow Video Poker in Racinos is Questioned

photo of Thistledown
Amanda Rabinowitz

An amendment to the budget bill just passed by the Ohio House says racinos in the state can now offer video poker. It’s an idea that’s drawing criticism from within the gambling industry itself.

Backers say video poker will boost state revenue because the Ohio Lottery Commission shares in the profits of racinos.

Opponents, like companies that own both racinos and casinos, say that’s not really so.  Bob Tenenbaum is a Penn National Gaming spokesman.  “There would be new revenue coming in from the racinos. In our view, about an equal amount would be lost to the casinos. You’re simply taking the same revenue, moving it somewhere else.  And the losers in all this are all 88 counties, the 8 largest cities, and every school district in Ohio."

Tennenbaum says this is because casino profits are taxed with the tax dollars going to local governments and boards of education. Racino profits are shared with the Lottery Commission which puts them in the state education fund.