2 Ohio racino communities due $500K each by year's end; officials must sort out funding source

Ohio officials and a racino developer must sort out how two communities will be paid the $500,000 each was supposed to get because horse racing tracks were moved there.

The Vindicator (http://bit.ly/1FAmCLi ) in Youngstown reported the first of the half-million-dollar annual payments is due by year's end to the nearby suburb of Austintown Township and the city of Dayton in southwest Ohio.

Two state lawmakers said it's not clear if those payments should be drawn from a relocation fund that Penn National Gaming Inc. contributes millions to or whether the payments are in addition to those contributions.

"The bottom line is that Austintown and Dayton deserve this money," Democratic Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman said. "They were promised this money. They budgeted for this money."

A spokesman for Gov. John Kasich said Penn National is responsible for the payments. The parties involved met last week but haven't scheduled a follow-up discussion, spokesman Rob Nichols told the newspaper.

A Penn Gaming spokesman, Bob Tenenbaum, said it wouldn't be appropriate to comment on the matter because talks are ongoing.

Paying from the relocation fund would require legislative changes because state law outlines how the money is spent, Schiavoni said.

He and Republican Sen. Bill Beagle of Tipp City said they're trying to make sure the promised payments get to the local governments as expected.

"We all want to make sure this is done right and by the end of the year," Beagle said.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the city cares about the payment itself, not whether it comes from the state or the company.

"You know, $500,000 is nothing to sneeze at," she said.

The racinos have horse racing and slots-like video lottery terminals.

The Austintown racino opened in September with a racing license transferred from Beulah Park near Columbus.

The Dayton racino opened in August with a license transferred from a Toledo racing venue that held its final race last year.


Information from: The Vindicator, http://www.vindy.com