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Saturation gambling

by Steve Hoffman on March 30, 2012

Northeast Ohio could soon become over-saturated with legalized gambling. Rather than spur economic development, that would mean economic disaster as a limited number of gamblers, who have a limited amount of money, are stretched among casinos and horse tracks, now allowed to add thousands of video slot machines.

Dan Gilbert’s partnership will soon open a casino in downtown Cleveland, and it is likely that the company will exercise an option on Thistledown in North Randall, moving the horse track to a site near the Akron-Canton Airport. Meanwhile, Northfield Park will get video slots and Penn National has a deal to move its horse track from from suburban Columbus (where it will soon have a casino) to Austintown, near Youngstown. To further complicate matters, Youngstown interests would like to put another casino amendment on the ballot for a site in that area.

Yes, some jobs will be created. But there is probably not enough money to support two casinos and the horse tracks.

Also, it is likely that existing bars, restaurants and entertainment venues will suffer. Studies show that most who will gamble in Ohio come from the community, not outside the state, with the number of compulsive gamblers rising, draining the resources of social service agencies that must deal with broken families, bankruptcies and alcoholism. As usual, the house will win.

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Steve Hoffman
This article was written by Steve Hoffman, Steve Hoffman was named an editorial writer for the Akron Beacon Journal in September 2001. He writes a weekly column of political analysis and contributes to the paper’s unsigned editorials and endorsements. Steve spent ten years as politics writer, covering national, state and local elections, including six national political conventions and statewide campaigns for president, the U.S. Senate and governor. He has been with the Beacon Journal for 25 years and held a variety of newsroom reporting and editing assignments and has won national, statewide and local news awards, including Ohio SPJ awards, Associated Press of Ohio awards and Akron Press Club awards. Steve has freelanced for the New York Times and Time, Newsweek and Business Week magazines. He is a guest lecturer on the media and politics at Kent State University and The University of Akron.

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