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Ohio casino backers start signature drive

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April 22, 2009

COLUMBUS - The petition for a constitutional amendment, which would allow one casino in each of Ohio's four largest cities, was accepted by the Ohio attorney general last week. Immediately afterwards supporters for the petition launched their drive to collect the 400,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify for next November's ballot.
The signatures must be turned in to the secretary of state's office by July 1st. The secretary's office and county elections boards will then have about twenty days to verify them. If there are not enough valid signatures, the petitioners will be granted additional time to gather more.

The proposal would amend the state constitution to allow one casino in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo. It requires at least a $250 million investment at each of the four casino sites plus a $50 million licensing fee per casino.

The state would receive a "permanent, guaranteed" tax of 33 percent on gross casino revenues and split the proceeds among counties and cities, school districts, and law enforcement. The estimated tax revenue is $600 million per year according to the casino backers. They also estimate the casinos would create about 20,000 new jobs.
Ohio voters have rejected four previous casino measures including one last November that would have established a casino in southwestern Ohio.

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