Arguments set before Ohio Justices on legal standing in anti-gambling group's slots challenge

Industries Associated Press

Gov. John Kasich unconstitutionally legalized video lottery terminals at seven Ohio horse tracks and shared proceeds with casino operators running the facilities, according to a lawsuit before the state Supreme Court.

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Kasich improperly expanded the Ohio Lottery by allowing the slots-like machines without getting voter approval, according to the complaint filed by the conservative anti-gambling group Ohio Roundtable on behalf of a recovering gambling addict. The group argues slots aren't a constitutional form of gambling and lottery proceeds in Ohio must go to education.

Attorneys for the state say the governor was within his rights. The court will hear arguments from both sides Tuesday on whether the Roundtable can proceed with the lawsuit.

Justices agreed two years ago to decide whether the Roundtable can go ahead with the lawsuit. That was after the 10th Ohio District Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a judge's ruling in March 2013, saying the Ohio Roundtable lacked legal standing in the case and couldn't proceed.

The high court postponed proceedings until a similar standing issue could be decided involving Kasich's privatized job-creation office, JobsOhio. The administration has since won that case.

In 2009, Ohio voters approved casino gambling at four sites in the state with backers promising new jobs and opponents warning about more gambling addicts. Casinos moved forward in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati.

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An agreement Kasich signed after the vote allowed a gambling company building two of the casinos to move its two horse racing tracks to other locations to avoid competition between tracks and casinos. Under the deal, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based Penn National agreed to pay the state $150 million in relocation fees.