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Vote ‘yes’ on Issue 3 to end the hypocrisy

Published: Sun, October 18, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

By Bertram de Souza

From the anti-gambling puritans, to the group leading the charge against State Issue 3, to some residents of the Mahoning Valley, the hypocrisy surrounding the constitutional amendment to permit full-service casinos in Ohio is palpable. But such hypocrisy is not new — as evidenced by the four times the voters of Ohio have rejected the expansion of gambling in the midst of the ever-growing state lottery, horse racing and bingo.

It’s time for Ohioans to grow up. They should either approve state Issue 3 in the Nov. 3 general election — passage would permit the construction of casinos featuring slots and table games in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo — or they should defeat it and then take the next step: Move to ban all gambling in the state.

If gambling is as bad for society as the paragons of virtue contend it is, then it should be banned entirely. That means no state-run lottery with the numbers, Rolling Cash, Ten-O, Classic Lotto, Mega Millions and keno; no bingo, in churches or anywhere else; and no horse racing at the seven tracks licensed by the state.

Every time there has been an issue on the statewide ballot calling for the expansion of gambling, the coalition of churches, conservative grass-roots and political organizations and some politicians has led the charge for its defeat. The coalition is on a winning streak.

This year, with Issue 3 on the ballot, another aggressive campaign has been launched. And there’s every reason to believe the voters will again say no. That’s because there are other special interests that have risen up in opposition.

Wealthy family

Leading the charge is TruthPac, which is being largely financed and directed by the very wealthy Jacobs family of Cleveland. The family operates a gaming and entertainment company that owns Mountaineer Race Track and Casino in West Virginia, Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie, Pa., and Scioto Downs horse-racing track in Franklin County.

Although TruthPac insists its opposition to the constitutional amendment is prompted by the fact that only four cities would be permitted to have casinos, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what this is really about: The Jacobs family protecting its financial interests.

Revealingly, the brains and money behind state Issue 3 is Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and founder of Quicken Loans. Gilbert has joined forces with Penn National Gaming Inc., in pushing the constitutional amendment. Their group, Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee, headed by Charlie Luken, former mayor of Cincinnati, has the support of all the major labor unions in Ohio.

Penn National owns a horse-racing track in Toledo and casinos and race tracks around the country.

But the hypocrisy surrounding the opposition to Issue 3 is no more evident than in the position being taken by some Mahoning Valley residents.

Leading the charge against the constitutional amendment is Atty. David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.

Betras has passionately railed against Gilbert et al for attempting to use the Constitution to benefit just four cities in the state. He has argued that the Mahoning Valley, in general, and the city of Youngstown, in particular, will not benefit in any significant way from the construction and subsequent operation of the casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.

Political gamble

The Democratic Party chairman has put his political reputation on the line by suggesting that the people of the Mahoning Valley will not support state Issue 3 and it, therefore, will go down to defeat in Ohio.

But here’s the kicker: It doesn’t matter whether the Mahoning Valley votes yes or no, it will still receive more than $20 million a year from the revenue generated by the casinos if the issue passes statewide.

Betras bristles at the suggestion that the position he has taken is unprincipled because he isn’t willing to go so far as to urge leaders in the Valley to reject the dirty money from the casinos in the four cities.

As for the Mahoning Valley getting its own full-service casino, don’t bet on it. The Jacobs family will not rush to put its own constitutional amendment on the ballot to permit casinos to be built anywhere in the state.


1Jerry(861 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I’ll repeat my comments regarding my reasons for opposing Issue 3, because my reasons have nothing to do with being against gambling or feeling that the Mahoning Valley is being slighted. My reasons center on the means by which the proponents of these casinos are attempting to enact the laws. Somebody really needs to explain to me why we need to add a 12 page amendment to the state constitution to accomplish this; in effect, legislating inside the constitution.

This 12 page monstrosity, obviously written by lawyers to be deliberately confusing so that more lawyers can be paid to argue about it endlessly in our courts, details the exact addresses of four casinos. Further, it goes into painstaking detail regarding operation; AND THIS IS BEING WRITTEN INTO THE STATE CONSTITUTION???!!! Has everyone lost their minds? Is it not the job of the State Legislature to determine laws? Why are they not deciding if Ohio laws can be changed to allow casino gambling? Why are local governments not deciding if they will or will not permit casinos in their neighborhoods, and where? If we are going to allow casino gambling, why are we not allowing competing interests and locations, to provide the best business opportunities? Why do we need to put this 12 page steaming pile of legal mumbo-jumbo directly into the constitution?

I have every intention of voting against this, just because it is a stupid thing to write into the constitution.

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2DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

perfectly said. wished i could make that a 30 second commericial.

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3Jerry(861 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Betras,

I'll make you a deal. You can use my words for your commercial, if you talk to me about another of my pet-peeves.

Last year’s SB 221 and the subsequent PUCO rules for energy efficiency and renewable energy are forcing the blatant waste of investment and resources on ineffective energy projects for solar and wind power generation in Ohio. It is inescapable that this is going to raise the cost of electricity in Ohio, and no one is talking about it. Hear me out and let me send you some information, and you can use my comments about Issue 3 in whatever way you want.

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4DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

i am not hard to find i will examine your issues

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5DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago


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6thinkpositive(10 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Can someone, preferably someone who truly knows what they are talking about, answer me: Is the money being promised to come into the Valley new money, additional money - money we are not receiving now OR will it simply replace the funding source for money we are already receiving (and, therefore, bring no additional new money into the Valley) - leaving us right where we are today?

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7DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

they are promising us money how much exactly we do not know for sure. But if you know someone in public financing ask about a concept called residual budgeting.

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8thinkpositive(10 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't know anyone in public financing - that's why I was asking for someone to definitively answer this question. I think it is an extremely important question because many people feel that if we are not getting the direct and indirect income from a local casino at least we will be getting additional money into the area - but I would like to know if this is truly the case or not. I think everyone needs to know if this is the case or not. And, David, as you have been a vocal opponent of Issue 3 I think you need to get the answer for the voters and, if we are not going to get additional income, scream it from the rooftops.

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9DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Perhaps you have not heard me screaming that this is a bad plan for us. Ask youself how long will we have to wait for our money? What guarantees is there that whatever we recieve will not be taken out of another funding source? Why were our business blocked from developing a plan under issue three? We are giving state property to a monoply for two business dan gilbert and penn gaming. Is this fair? Is it right? Would we ever amend the US constitution for two businesses? This is not how to do this and the fact we were left out just amplifies this fact. These two will have a monoply to the exclusion of everyone else. They will have a lock on this business-is this how we do business in America? We were left out because this is a terrible plan. We are the decendants of immigrants. Many of whom came to the United States here with nothing but a dream and a strong work ethic. We do not need handouts from anyone we need an opportunity to develop our own jobs. We are not less of an area than any other. Defend our area fight for our right for jobs and fairness. I implore you to vote not on three.

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10bobhogue(102 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I am voting NO on Issue 3.

Although I am troubled by the loss of revenue to surrounding states with casinos, the way to go about fixing this is not to make a bloated amendment to an already bloated state constitution. Let's ask (demand?) that the Legislature and the Governor jointly have the guts to address this issue head-on, draft appropriate legislation, and ensure that no city or region is denied the opportunity to get into the casino business if they want to.

And then let's join our surrounding states who have been able to move ahead, rather than getting mired in old-time Ohio politics.

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11Tugboat(759 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Laws that created the state sales and income taxes decades ago made counties, municipalities and townships the state's partner and promised a big chunk of those revenue streams. The theory: State taxes would hamstring the ability to raise taxes locally, so the state turnback would only be fair.

The partnership proved one-sided. The legislature continually tweaked distribution formulas, chipping away at the turnbacks to solve state funding problems.

BdS writes that we 'will still receive more than $20 million a year from the revenue generated by the casinos if the issue passes statewide.' Don't bet on it.

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12commoncents(53 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

It doesn't really matter!

With the casino issue, we in the Valley have once again waited too long and failed to look ahead progressively. We are still trying to attract low-value union jobs with steel companies while our neighbors have moved on to high-tech, green energy, and healthcare development. We are still spending money to hang onto a failed airport after watching Akron, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland beat us to the punch and lock up the available market. And now we have waited as neighboring states opened their casinos.

We don't need another "me too" failure like the Chevrolet/Cavelli Centre. Sure it's bad to lose revenue when our residents gamble at out of state casinos. Do we really think that Ohio casinos will somehow reverse that trend and attract huge numbers of out of state people here to gamble? That's what we need, but it's not going to happen. Instead we might get some of our own people to stay home to gamble and isn't that a little like jingling the change in our own pocket?

Either way - it doesn't really matter if Issue 3 passes or fails!

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13apollo(1227 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

The state needs the gambling money to fund the golden trough for the public employees of Ohio.

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14VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Each year it seems, an important issue comes before voters and then the special interest people come out of the woodwork to tell us how bad this issue is for us.

Special interest people in this instance include local and regional officials who are miffed that they are not included in this porposal and claim the issue is the downfall of the valley. What they are really telling us is, they are not going to see dollars lining their personal pockets if this issue passes and they will lose money from their interests. Special interest people are not looking out for the State of Ohio or for you.

Before you make your decision, look at the big picture and not the myoptic vision of those crying for its defeat. Issue 3 is before us to stem the tide of lost revenue and taxes to the out-of-state casinos and put those dollars back in the hands of Ohio. This is not about Youngstown. This is not about Cleveland. Issue 3 is all about Ohio, Youngstown, Cleveland, Champion, and all other communites in the state. l would like to see a renewed effort "For Ohio" and not the continued effort by others who have outside interests and look for ways to stifle Ohio growth.

We need to pool our efforts "For Ohio" because, as Ohio grows, so does its communities. An increase in tax revenue for Ohio means less demand for tax imcome from our pockets, road improvements that every community desperately needs, school improvements for our childrens' education and a balanced budget that does not impact safety services.

Issue 3 is the best proposal available to balance our budget and keep Ohio dollars working in Ohio. Don't let special interest people convince you otherwise. Keep Ohio dollars in Ohio. Vote YES on Issue 3.

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15thinkpositive(10 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

David re your last post - I have heard you screaming. And I agree with you. I have no intentions of voting for Issue 3. Yet, as with most issues, many voters do not understand all that is involved. They think: Gambling in Ohio - ok, I'm for it. They hear: Money coming to the Valley - and say, great! This is what I am hearing around the area. But I fear they are being misled about the second part, yet I do not know if I am correct in my fear - this is the reason for my posts. I am not criticizing your efforts but merely asking you to try to clarify this important point and I also believe the Vindicator should be doing all that it can to investigate the facts of this issue and inform its readers. While Betram has a point with this editorial, which is basically "Sh*t or get off the pot" regarding gambling in Ohio - that's really not the point behind being for or against Issue 3. I believe people will vote for Issue 3 because they want gambling and later will be sorry because only THEN will they realize we have Once Again been left behind.

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16Jumanji(7 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Jerry - The reason this proposal is written in the form of an amendment, as the story alludes to, is that this is seen as an expansion of gambling. It's not clear in our Constitution if casino gambling is legal. No smart business venture would put up billions of their own private money to build casinos if it's illegal.

David Betras - What have you done lately that has generated $650 million for local government and schools? What have you done to create tens of thousands of jobs for Ohio? Our state government - including yourself - has repeatedly let us down. When it comes to generating and managing money for the state, you've proven yourself to be incompetent. Now it's up to the voters to decide if private enterprise can do better. I think it can, that's why I'm voting YES ON 3!

Money where there is little. Jobs where there are few. Reasons to visit our downtowns. We'd be foolish to pass this opportunity up Ohio! Vote YES TO CASINOS!

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17DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago


I do not believe "selling" our state constitutuion is the right thing to do. And a small query did dan gilbert tell labron what he would pay him or did the market dictate it? If you answered the latter then why should he get to tell us what he pays rather than what the market says? This is a bad proposal for the state and especially for our area.

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18harleydog(243 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey Dave Betras, have you ever been to mountaneer or any other gambling establishments??? If so then you must be comfortable giving other states your money instead of Ohio. I would drive to Columbus or Cleveland instead of going out of state. These casinos are jobs and money for the state of Ohio. What's next are you going to sue everyone that doesn't build a store, food establishment, or even a house in the Mahoning Valley. I think you just like hearing yourself talk, blah,blah, blah.

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19Jerry(861 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Jumanji – I do not profess to be an expert on the Ohio Constitution, but I did not see anything in it that prohibits the Legislature from making laws allowing casino gambling. If there is and I have missed it, however, it would seem to me that a very simple one-line amendment would suffice. A simple amendment that strikes the prohibition from the constitution and allows the Legislature and local governments to create laws allowing casino gambling would be all that is required. Then the Legislature and local governments could do their jobs as I suggest; and there would be no need for the monstrous 12 page amendment that is currently proposed.

I still intend to vote NO.

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20pit_bull_marley(291 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Im voting yes on issue 3

We have to build up this entire state

It is movement in the right direction

I wish it could be here, but its not

SOMEONE in our little town that is of political power should have fought for, not against

Open the doors please...People are going to gamble...so they can gamble here, in our state...or we can cont to watch the traffic and monies leave our state...as always. This is the cold NE part of the country. We have to start somewhere, we have to have people WANT to come here. Vote yes

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21Letstryagain(218 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

There may be an argument regarding the most effective way to "legalize" slots and table games (ie legislation vs ammendment).

If it is a strong argument, that is what should be brought forth, not the we vs them bantering that is both unwinnable, and way down the list of rationale reasons to not support the gambling initiative.

My guess, and I admit it is only a guess, is that even if Youngstown was named as a "gambling legal zone" no one would build a casino in Youngstown to compete against estabished operations in WV, PA and NY, not to mention the near and soon to be operations within our borders.

I am not negative on Youngstown or the Mahoning Valley, but we have to be realistic about who we are and where we are. We are not the large metropolitan area of a Cleveland or Pittsburgh. If gambling were limited to a couple of cities in Ohio, and Youngstown were one of them, then I am sure it would be a huge success, but the Mahoning Valley has little chance of gettting the necessary "exclusive rights" to force people to our casino's. If there is a credible operator that can commit to a casino in Youngstown, then we have something to fight for, but until that person shows up, there is little strength arguing that the Mahoning Valley is being left out.

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22theword(342 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Vote NO

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23pit_bull_marley(291 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Vote NO...Stop progress in its tracks.

I have been reading both points of view and I agree with points from both sides. But I have been here in this general region for about 35 yrs and just seems like we are afraid of anything new. Im tired of other states making these decisions that we turn down as voters. I still think its progress and movement forward as far as Ohio goes...and to some extent for us also

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24PhilKidd(189 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Vote "No" on Issue 3 (regardless of your political persuasion):


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25One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Hey Pit_Bull_Marley,

I originally though the same way you do but have changed my opinion since reading the complete text of the amendment. The part that got me was section 9 parts A, B, C and D. I'd paste it in here, but it's actually about 2 pages long.

Anyhow, suffice it to say that it defines Tax Parcel Numbers in these 4 cities that will constitute the 4 Casinos. When others have said the we are writing "addresses" into our constitution, I thought they were just being over-dramatic. Then I read them. I couldn't believe it. Tax Parcels actually "are" addresses and they are actually included in the amendment.

What our neighboring states have done is had enough common sense to ask a very basic question that our politicians cant or wont ask. "Do we want to allow counties (or cities for that matter) to decide for themselves whether or not to allow Casino Gambling?" I very much doubt that, if you look up Michigan, New York or West Virginia's laws that allow their Casinos to operate, it would say something like "Yes - but only at Presque Isle" or "Yes, but only at Mountaineer Park".

This amendment has nothing what-so-ever to do with progress. I'd love to see a Casino just down the street from me, and if not, I'd love to see Casinos in the state of Ohio. But dolling out 4 street addresses to people who already own those addresses is no way to get it. In fact, far as I can tell, if this passes it will go a long way to making sure nowhere else in the state will EVER get it. And that is as wrong as it gets.

I say we put all political efforts to asking the fundamental question: "Can counties approve their own Casinos within the state of Ohio?" Whats wrong with doing that - why are they so afraid of it?

After reading it, there's no way in Hell, I'd vote for what someone called "this steaming pile of legislation".

No way.

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26rex(65 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

There should not be constitutional changes granting individuals a monopoly on gambling. I am in favor of FREE MARKET gambling but not Issue 3

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27gypsygirl720(186 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Please READ the FINE print on any issue.
We are voting NO on Issue 3.
[Way too many people in 'TheValley' are gambling instead of putting food on the table, making their rent or buying diapers for babies].

This is just my opinion. The way to make money is to get a job, even if it is minimum wage. Work as many jobs as a person can. Pull together and do the best you can.


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28casper77(136 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

The only people who will benefit from Casinos is the people who run them. The loser are the communities with increase crime, jails, rehabs centers and police forces. Why not vote for tax breaks for companies who produce a product in Ohio. They will give us something good in return instead of the headaches that the Casinos will bring. The theory that they will bring alot of money to Ohio is not true. Vegas made BIG money only because they were the only game in town. When you divide all the gambling money by 50 ( states) the money is so diluted, it will never be like Vegas. It will never make the money promise by the People who say it will. What do you have to show for when you leave a Casino,, is a empty pocket. When you leave a store or something is shipped from a company, you have something to show for the monies you spent.

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29pit_bull_marley(291 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

thanks for the info ONE_WHO_STAYED...Makes me wonder a bit. decisions...decisions

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30JAB(41 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Why would anyone agree with Betras, He is friends with Dann and Jennings, two stellar citizens. Is Betras the best that the democratic party can do for us? And you wonder why this area is falling apart. Same on you David Betras...

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31SkyKing310B(315 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

My father came to this area in 1948 from Detroit Where he was born an raised. His company sent him here to open a new store for there chain. After being In Youngstown for 6 months he made a very astute observation- Youngstown is the most "against everything" city he had ever seen.

Looking back over the 61 years since he made that statement, not much has changed. Youngstown is still the most "against everthing" city in the country!

If we don't need a constitutional amend for progress- axe your state legislators why they did not make this possible for us years ago as other states have.

Better Still- let's open a string of legal Brothels- no one else except Nevada has these- Oh Wait- the Gov't hasn't figured out a way to tax that!-Yet?!

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32shadowman(67 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I am stuck on the statement that the amendment will allow only four cities in ohio to build and operate a casino, and only those four cities will EVER have a casino. Regardless of whether Youngstown is one of those cities or not, that is not a free enterprise system. Each area, if they are able and capable should be allowed to have a casino. As ridiculas as that sounds, it makes it all pretty simple. No amendment should be written to better one area while permanently limiting others.

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33SkyKing310B(315 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Shadow- That's Ohio Politics for you.

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