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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