YOUNGSTOWN -- A group of Mahoning County Democrats is throwing its support behind a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize slot machines in Ohio on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Anthony Caldwell, regional director for the Vote Yes on Issue 3 Committee, said locals supporting the initiative include state Sen. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, state Reps. Kenneth A. Carano of Austintown and Sylvester D. Patton Jr. of Youngstown, county Auditor Michael Sciortino, county Treasurer John Reardon and county Democratic Chairwoman Lisa Antonini.
Issue 3 would permit slot machines at the state's seven horse-racing tracks and two downtown Cleveland locations. Of the proceeds, 30 percent would go to a tuition fund beginning in 2009 that would provide money to Ohio students going to Ohio public colleges and universities.
Carano, a longtime gambling proponent, said he's supporting the issue, but with some reservations.
"We want to see if we can get more for the counties that don't have racetracks," he said. "Maybe in the future we can have a satellite gambling casino in this area."
Carano acknowledges there is no guarantee that would happen, and expecting it to ever happen is "a leap of faith."
But Carano supports this proposal because at least it would stop the amount of money leaving Ohio for states that have legalized gambling.
"We gamble, and I'd prefer to have it stay in Ohio," he said. "Hopefully after the vote they'll spread it out to other parts of the state."
Satellite casinos are not included in the language of Issue 3, but Youngstown and Dayton would be looked as "possible future sites," Caldwell said.
Opponents of the slot machine proposal have said the promise of tuition grants isn't worth the potential social problems, such as crime and addictive gambling, the area could have if the issue passes.