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Thirteen Ohio newspapers agreed to share their editorials on Issue 3, which appears on the Nov. 7



Published: Sun, October 22, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Thirteen Ohio newspapers agreed to share their editorials on Issue 3, which appears on the Nov. 7 ballot and would fund college scholarships with the proceeds from slot machine parlors. Most of the editorials are running for the first time in those newspapers today (as is The Vindicator's, which appears on the editorial page).

Here are some of the other newspapers' editorials, edited and condensed. Only The Cleveland Plain Dealer suggested a yes vote. Two free-standing slot parlors would be built in downtown Cleveland if the issue passed, and Cuyahoga County voters could later vote to allow those to become full-scale casinos.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Arguments against allowing slot machines at nine Ohio locations overwhelm proponents' feeble contentions that this initiative is good for the state.

Ohio voters should give State Issue 3 a thrashing on Nov. 7.

Supporters, using the misleading name of the Learn and Earn Committee, want Ohioans to believe this amendment to the Ohio Constitution will be a scholarship windfall for Ohio college students. Instead, the jackpot will put billions in the pockets of the owners of seven Ohio horserace tracks and two proposed casinos in Cleveland.

In deceptive commercials, Learn and Earn proponents grossly exaggerate the amount of money that will be set aside from slot-machine profits to pay for scholarships. The ads boasted that 1 billion a year would be generated for scholarships, but that figure inflates Learn and Earn's own estimate of 853 million a year, which state budget analysts say already is wildly exaggerated.

The Office of Management and Budget says a more accurate estimate is 324 million a year.

Many of Ohio's public officials and Ohio State University's board of trustees see this scheme for what it is. In the guise of helping Ohio students pay for higher education, voters would hand gambling businesses a lucrative monopoly. The idea of writing such a scam into the Ohio Constitution is preposterous.

Casino proponents talk of jobs that would be created, but opponents correctly point out that Issue 3 would be a drain on Ohio's economy. Money lost to gambling houses is cash that can't be spent on goods and services that keep the economy humming and create jobs based on production, not exploitation.

Gambling is not a harmless vice, as some people think. Excessive gambling leads to addiction, which like drug or alcohol addiction, breaks up families and ruins lives. Citing a 2005 Cleveland State University study, the Ohio Roundtable estimates that Issue 3's approval would cause 109,000 people to become gambling addicts.

The Ohio Roundtable, a conservative public-policy activist group, also warns that legalization of slot machines would make Ohio a Class III gambling state under federal law, which would open the state to Indian-owned casinos, meaning that gambling ultimately would spread far beyond the nine locations Ohioans are asked to approve.

DAYTON DAILY NEWS

There are a million and one reasons to vote against Issue 3 -- preposterously, outrageously and deceitfully called "Learn & amp; Earn." Here are several.

U Issue 3 would allow up to 3,500 slot machines at seven horse racing tracks in Ohio and two sites in Cleveland. Picture quaint Lebanon in Warren County with 3,500 one-armed bandits at the Lebanon Raceway.

UIssue 3 would enshrine in the Ohio Constitution that race track owners and two developers in Cleveland would get to keep 55 percent of the proceeds from their gambling enterprises. That wouldn't all be profit, of course, because the businesses also have expenses. But it's a guaranteed cut.

UIssue 3 was written by and for specific businesses. Only certain outfits would be allowed to open a casino. Can you say self-dealing?

UBy placing their issue on the ballot, Issue 3 proponents didn't have to negotiate with anybody about how much they could profit. That's why Issue 3 is so one-sided.

UCan you really trust people who would use scholarships for kids as a cover to fatten their own wallets?

Run -- don't walk -- to vote No on Issue 3.

TOLEDO BLADE

The first thing to understand about state Issue 3 is the reality its backers don't want you to closely consider: This issue is not about college scholarships; it's about giving legalized gambling, and the serious social problems that come with it, a lucrative foothold in Ohio.

The 13.5 million campaign to promote Issue 3 is being run by those who would benefit most from its passage: the owners of seven horse-racing tracks, including Toledo's Raceway Park, which would get the right to run up to 3,500 slot machines each, plus a couple of wealthy developers in Cleveland, who would first get slot machines and, after four years, two full-blown gambling casinos.

Another significant defect of the issue is that it is a constitutional amendment. We believe that major public programs and policies should be written into state law, not enshrined forever in an increasingly cluttered state constitution.

As the state lottery has amply demonstrated over more than 30 years, legalizing gaming will not solve the perennial problem of school funding. Neither will it provide a permanent boost for development.

Ohioans should not take a chance on what is, as all gamblers understand, a losing proposition. The house always wins in the end. We urge a vote against Issue 3.

CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

It's time for Ohio to take a gamble. It's time for us to join the majority of states that permit and handsomely profit from legalized gambling.

The potential of State Issue 3 -- commonly known as the Learn and Earn Amendment -- is significant. It stands to fuel economic and educational advances throughout the state, and especially in Northeast Ohio. Yes, Issue 3 would entail some social costs, and it falls far short of perfection as a constitutional amendment. But its benefits still outweigh the negatives.

Learn and Earn would allow the creation of nine slot machine parlors in Ohio, two of which would be in downtown Cleveland and two more at Cuyahoga County horse-racing tracks. It would also allow Cuyahoga County voters to decide later whether to convert their slots parlors into casinos with table games.

The positive economic impact of Issue 3 can hardly be overstated. A & quot;yes & quot; vote would create up to 5,300 permanent jobs in downtown Cleveland. That gaming employment and the ancillary jobs would give the city just the sort of momentum-building boost it needs. And slot machine proceeds could eventually help finance a new convention center and a major medical-merchandise mart.

Beyond the purely parochial advantages to Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, the best argument for Issue 3 is the strong support it would provide to a state system of higher education desperately in need of a funding infusion.

Because of its own economic needs and its neighbors' aggressiveness, Ohio no longer has the luxury of remaining uncompetitive. By voting & quot;yes & quot; on Issue 3, voters will provide new financial resources for all 88 counties, and greatly improve Cleveland's fortunes.

The biggest payoff, however, will come to young Ohioans whose college dreams can be fulfilled, without miring them in nightmarish debt.

WARREN TRIBUNE-CHRONICLE

That great sucking sound you are about to hear is money siphoned from the Mahoning Valley to Cleveland if voters approve State Issue 3 in the November General Election.

The biggest problems for voters in Trumbull and surrounding counties is that, if gambling turns a profit, none of it would be here. In fact, since the casinos will pay no state taxes, there is no hope that money will even trickle down to our community. And if gambling results in social ills, something the gaming industry acknowledges, we will have to deal with the ills without sharing in the economic development.

Only a fool believes this will add to education funding. The Amendment states that gambling scholarships must supplement, not supplant, existing state funding for education. But based on how the state handled its promise to spend Lottery money on schools, you can bet the Legislature will divert future funding increases elsewhere so that there is no net gain for higher education.

There is nothing in this Amendment to help citizens in and around Trumbull County. In fact, it will hurt, so we urge voters to reject Issue 3.

MARIETTA TIMES

No one knows better than those of us living in southeast Ohio that the state needs jobs. We also know first hand just how hard it is to send our kids to college in Ohio.

Although it appears to be an easy fix on the surface, we don't think State Issue 3 will deliver on its promises to fix those problems.

Proponents of the slot machines and other gambling claim these gaming places will draw tourists from out of the state. But we all know better than that. We know that more times than not, the people gambling already live here and are likely to be low-income residents with families. Instead of hitting a jackpot that solves their financial problems once and for all, those who get sucked into this culture risk losing everything. It just isn't worth it.

The big business leaders behind this effort did their homework. Efforts to expand gambling in Ohio have failed in the past. That's why they crafted a message that hits hard on jobs and the education. But these are false promises. While some may benefit from these scholarships, we think many more stand to lose. And many of those who stand to lose the most are low-income families living in rural Ohio.

Surely there are better ways for the state to look to increase jobs and make higher education more accessible to more people. Surely it can be done without the state being held hostage by developers whose real agenda is to line their own pockets.

Voters should not be fooled. Vote no on State Issue 3.




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