Dan Gilbert’s Jack Entertainment is warning Ohio lawmakers against a move to allow video poker at the state’s seven racinos. Jack is the owner and operator of the state’s two Jack Casinos as well as Jack Thistledown Racino.
This comes after the Ohio house voted to approve the addition of video poker in an effort to close a hole in the state budget and provide more money for education. The measure now goes to the state senate as part of the state budget and would need the governor’s signature to become law.
Adding video poker would reportedly be projected to generate an additional $12.5 million a year for the Ohio Lottery Commission. All lottery profits in Ohio go to fund education.
Casino officials believe the hit to the state’s four casinos would be much greater.
“JACK Entertainment opposes the expansion of Ohio casino gaming to racinos,” said Dan Reinhard, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and General Counsel for Jack Entertainment.
“This illegal, unconstitutional expansion will result in nearly $30 million annually in lost revenues at Ohio’s four casinos, thereby reducing casino tax contributions and putting jobs at risk,” Reinhard said in a statement to News 5.
“It also will eliminate $140 million in casino payments to the state under the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding signed between the four casinos and the state. The net effect will be a reduction in casino-funded support to the state's 88 counties, eight largest cities and school districts around the state. Any perceived gains in education funding from increased lottery revenue will be more than offset by decreases in casino revenue, an important reality not considered in the drafting of the legislation,” Reinhard said.
In 2011 as a solution to a fight over casino taxes and fees the state entered into an agreement with what is now Jack Entertainment and Penn National, the owners of the four casinos. Under the plan, the state’s seven horse racing tracks were allowed to add video lottery terminals while the casino owners pledged to the state to pay an additional $10 million a year for the first five years and $12 million a year for the five after that.
The $140 million Reinhard spoke of what would be the balance of the remaining funds to be paid.
Gov. John Kasich reportedly does not support the expansion of gaming approved by the house and has the ability to line-item veto items before signing off on the budget in late June.