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TRUMBULL COUNTY Voters at odds with gambling



Published: Wed, November 7, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some churches didn't support the effort to defeat the measure because they participate in bingo and other games of chance.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Off-track betting in Trumbull County wasn't a top priority for gambling interests anyway, a track operator said.

Now, operating a facility that receives satellite transmissions of live horse racing for pari-mutuel betting in the county is dead after 52 percent of voters threw their support Tuesday behind a five-year ban on the activity.

David Bianconi, Northfield Park Associates spokesman, said opening a parlor at the Eastwood Mall wasn't a priority.

Northfield operates a harness racing track near Cleveland and received approval from the Ohio Racing Commission for a license to operate at the mall.

Bianconi said a parlor in Trumbull County "would not be lucrative" and won't be until there are changes in state law.

Problems: The difficulty, Bianconi explained, is twofold.

Ohio law requires a parlor to split its winnings with track operators in the state. Also, the state withholds 2.5 percent of a patron's winnings.

In Pennsylvania, such as in New Castle, parlors pay out 100 percent, Bianconi said, noting it would have been difficult to lure gamblers from New Castle's simulcast horse racing.

The Rev. John Temple, a spokesman for the anti-gambling segment of the county, said voters rejected gambling after understanding it was more than a religious issue.

The Rev. Mr. Temple of North-Mar Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Warren said the issue involves economics, family and crime.

Northfield didn't actively campaign against the issue because it couldn't open at the mall, even if voters wanted gaming.

Location: When there is a track within 50 miles of a proposed parlor site, the law requires those tracks to give their approval.

Thistledown racetrack is in North Randall, less than the 50-mile radius. Thistledown had not given Northfield its consent to open a Niles parlor.

Mr. Temple's group actively campaigned because some areas in the county are more than 50 miles from Thistledown.

Mr. Temple said some churches did not give his group their support because they participate in bingo and other games of chance.




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