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Ohio casino jobs promise is misleading, study says

Published: Wed, September 30, 2009 @ 12:10 a.m.

Democratic Party Chairman David Betras adds to the chorus opposing Issue 3.


COLUMBUS — A casino proposal that proponents claim will create tens of thousands of jobs will simply cause money to change hands and replace established jobs, according to an economic study released Tuesday.

The Hiram College Public Policy Research Group study, paid for by the Ohio bar owners’ industry group, attempts to shred the economic arguments made by the Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee in its effort to push a plan to build casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. The committee is at the center of the strategy to sell the casino plan to Ohio voters, who have rejected gambling proposals four times in the past 20 years.

Casino backers have been relying on a study by the Economic Center for Education and Research at the University of Cincinnati that found the casino plan would create 34,000 jobs.

But the Hiram College study said the Cincinnati study is flawed because it does not perform a cost-benefit analysis that evaluates the impact of the casinos on surrounding businesses. The objective of casinos is to provide multiple forms of entertainment under one roof to keep customers there, so surrounding businesses will lose customers and sales, the study found.

“It’s really an exchange of money, it’s not economic growth,” said Thomas Pascarella, professor emeritus of economics and management at Hiram College.

Pascarella said Ohio’s casinos will largely attract local visitors and won’t bring in a large amount of money that wouldn’t normally be spent in the community.

“There will be no need for the new grocery store down the street, the new theater, because the population is growing as a result of casinos,” Pascarella said.

Also weighing in on the side against Issue 3 — albeit for different reasons — is Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras.

“We as a region are going to take a stance,” Betras said Tuesday after asking Girard City Council to adopt a resolution opposing Issue 3 at their regular meeting Monday night.

Betras said Issue 3 would keep Mahoning Valley businessmen from ever starting a casino and create a monopoly for Dan Gilbert and Penn National Gaming.

“We as a region need to say ‘no more passing up the Valley,’” he said. “I’m tired of them overlooking us.”

Northeast Ohio votes a higher percentage in favor of the casino issue because Valley residents incorrectly believe that a casino will come to Youngstown, Betras contended.

Because the area already votes in favor of the ballot issue, Betras said that lawmakers and the business partners pushing the casinos can ignore the Valley.

“We are not, under Issue 3, ever going to get a casino,” he said. “I’m not against gambling, but I am against them looking over this area.”

Both the Hiram and the Cincinnati studies are paid for by organizations that have a vested interest in the outcome of the Nov. 3 vote. The University of Cincinnati study was paid for by the Jobs and Growth Committee, which includes Penn National Gaming. The Hiram College study was paid for by the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association.

In a statement, the Ohio Jobs and Growth Committee called the Hiram study “seriously flawed,” citing as one example a premise comparing the number of jobs at casinos in Pennsylvania with projections for jobs at Ohio’s casinos. The group notes that Pennsylvania doesn’t have full-service casinos, but the distinction does not carry over to comparisons with Indiana casinos, which had also created fewer jobs than the projection for Ohio.

The Hiram College study also questions the proposed tax rates and license fees for the plan. The 33 percent proposed tax rate on gross casino revenue is lower than in other states and leaves too much of the burden of the “social costs” of gambling on the state and local communities, the study found. The study authors also recommended that the license fees, which at $50 million would be lower than many other states, should be auctioned off to get the fair market value.

Jennifer Pitzer, who worked on the University of Cincinnati study, said the Hiram College study maintains that there is no wealth creation from casinos.

“We have no evidence to support that,” Pitzer said.

But she acknowledged that the Cincinnati study, which is an economic development study, is not as comprehensive as a cost-benefit study.


1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Just vote NO. This is another bad deal casino plan for Ohio.

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2SWEETEDDIE(35 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago


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3PaulJ(1 comment)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Vote NO. It's true that jobs will be created, but I also believe that it will be at the expense of other jobs. I don't understand why people want to gamble, it's the same as giving your money away. How can it be fun to gamble. Ohio and I don't want gambling in our back yard. Gambling, the shows and the lifestyle is NOT the type of activity I believe is wholesome and does not have the moral values I want instilled in my children. VOTE NO on Gambling. It's a sure thing to reject...

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4pancake(2 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

A casino is just another thing that corrupt polititions will use to line their pockets with.

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5bucnasty(17 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago


May I suggest the caps lock key.

As sotired suggested, the State constitution is not that hard as people think. The issue is not where these casinos are at the beginning, it is what they will provide. Youngstown fits the location for a casino due to the amount of people that hemorrhage out of Ohio to go to Mountaineer to gamble. But honestly, where in Youngstown can a decent facility be built? Everyone needs to see the proposed plans for Dan Gilbert's facility in Cleveland. It's an absolutely mind blowing facility. No person with the necessary money has the desire to build in Youngstown, nor should they.

The bigger picture is that Ohio NEEDS this. Regardless of jobs and what these studies say, keep the tax revenues in Ohio that flow constantly to WV, PA, MI, IN, Windsor, and Niagara in Ohio.

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6boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I'd like to believe that anyone smart enough to actually go vote would be able to understand exactly what the issues are that they are voting on, but its simply not the case. When people can't comprehend the language of the bill they vote for or against, do you really think its a good idea for them to try their luck in a casino? My point here is that they are both bad decisions to follow through with. So why don't we the intelligent ones vote for no casinos in Ohio and save these illiterate morons from themselves before its too late.

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7Tugboat(759 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Use your gambling dollars to pay down debt. Your odds are better.

In the midst of our alleged sour economy, the money paid to the states via gaming dwindles.

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8VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

As an alumni of Hiram, I have to agree with Professor Pascarella about his analysis of the job growth, which is more in line with reality. The casino issue is one that will pass now, but it really is a decade late and will not provide the economic impact we expect. I have driven by some of the out-of-state casino's and have seen only moderate economic growth nearby, such as gas stations and motels.

To be truely effective, a casino should be part of a large economic development area, similar to a huge Easton Towne Center in Columbus, where the entire development is involved in drawing in the traffic.

The real factor in all of this is voters are looking for ways to generate tax revenue and relieve their state tax crisis. Allowing casino's to operate within the state and generate tax revenue was not an option in years past. This time voters will say yes because all other options do not look promising and will cost us much more.

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9VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I suppose some of us still buy tickets to see the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns and they are big time losers. Fans will spend thousands of dollars each during the course of a season to support their team. Why do they do it? They do it for the thrill, the excitement and just to be there. Its called entertainment. That is also why people go to a casino. During times when the Indians and Browns are down, people will go to a casino to boost their excitement level again. They are paying for that rush and they don't mind doing it.

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10Askmeificare(1238 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago


1] Keeps tax dollars in the State of Ohio.

2] Attracts tourist and convention dollars.

3]. Newer and adaptable businesses will be developed by thoughtful entrepreneurs that go hand in hand with this positive move into casinos.

Casinos open up more economic options for an area, local and regionally, than areas without casinos.

Don't believe the negative hype from worried out of state casinos who do not want us to know the truth.

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11Muka(1 comment)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

This study is a load of crap. It makes sweeping statements about net job losses but doesn't back up the argument with any numbers. Not one. Exactly HOW MANY job losses are estimated? Where's the evidence that the casinos will hurt local businesses? Give us cold hard facts, don't just spout off uneducated opinions and expect us to believe them.

And what kind of analysis says that the tax rate is "lower than other states" but doesn't even back that up with evidence? Any idiot can do a quick Internet search and find that when the supposed academics who conducted this "study" refer to a tax rate that is "lower than other states," they mean lower than THREE other states. And THAT is a fact. The tax rate being proposed here in Ohio is the 4th highest in the country.

Try again. Next time, I'd suggest opting for a credible academic institution who know how to conduct a real academic study and provide quantifiable proof to back up any conclusions that are made.

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12Askmeificare(1238 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Where is Stan ? He'll know what to do ! Stan for Mayor !!

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13AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

The FACT is any casino will create jobs...PERIOD.

- Jobs will be created to construct the casino.
- Jobs will be created to operate and maintain the casino.
-Certainly some experienced casino workers will be relocated to work at the new casino, but this happens with any business. But many of the jobs
will have to be filled within the community.

The FACT is that there will be other ECONOMIC BENEFITS as a result of the casino.

- Businesses will benefit by providing goods and services to operate and maintain the casino.
- Businesses will benefit as casino patrons stop to purchase gas, food or other items.

Think about it...how many times have you shopped at the grocery store or gas station and never patronized other surrounding businesses?

Maybe we should outlaw grocery nad gas stations because they do not provide economic developement.

Casinos are a part of economic developement but never intended to be the total solution.

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14CSanders1600(3 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Any casino will create thousands of jobs. Casinos do bring in revenue for states and provide a lot of minimum-wage jobs.

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15CSanders1600(3 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Any casino will create thousands of jobs. Casinos do bring in revenue for states and provide a lot of minimum-wage jobs. I enjoy the occasional trip, but I can't speak for those who may have gambling problems.

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16Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I cannot believe myself and Chairman Betras actually agree with something. No consideration to the Mahoning Valley, then I cannot support this.

HOWEVER--I agree Ohio needs to legalize gambling generally in order to prevent people from leaving Ohio to gamble. It is mentioned in the article that casinos will only attract local visitors--no kidding, that is the entire point. Keep them in Ohio, not from going out of state.

Frankly, Mountaineer is not all that great. We could actually have decent casinos in Ohio, but they should not be restricted to the 3 C's only.

Why not form a gaming commission like everyone else? It is not that big of a deal. If Nevada can pull it off, there is no reason in hell why we can't. They can approve who can and cannot get a license, and the amount of licenses can be limited to a certain number within reason to prevent overexpansion of the industry. This is not that hard to figure out, and you do not exactly need to be an academic to understand the premise.

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17profkurt(1 comment)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Both sides have it right. Jobs will be created but some wiill be created at the expense of others. I believe that there will be a net increase in the number of jobs. Here's why. First,although the casinos will be supported in large part by locals, many of these locals do in fact leave the state to do their gambling now. Thus, if they stay in Ohio to gamble (and why wouldn't they), their money stays here and additional jobs wll be created. Second, with Cleveland's new convention center and Medical Mart coming, a full service casino in Cleveland like the one proposed by Dan Gilbert will make Cleveland a much more desirable convention location. Coupled with the existing world-class arts, entertainment and dining facilites already in Cleveland, the tourism dollars will increase significantly, creating jobs not just in the casino but in many other areas as well. How about this as a side benefit to those of us who already live here - more money to the arts and entertainment businesses will enhance our quality of life. And the State should take some of the money from the casino fees and taxes to create a serious proven program to addresss gambling addiction. This is a home run, folks!!

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18Crowe(20 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Anytime they have to use "it'll create jobs" or "tax revenue" to sell something that has failed to pass time and again, check for the pig behind the lipstick.

It's opportunity costs and addiction, people.

Gambling transfers wealth to the casino owners--who almost never live in state or nearby and who therefore don't re-invest their money in the local economy.

That same money could have gone to local businesses owned and operated by local residents.

In both cases the government gets its tax cut, but in one case the money actually spent for entertainent stays local while in another case it leaves.

then you have the issue of gambling addiction--a very real problem which can lead to other problems.

The Lottery was supposed to generate sooo much money for our schools. Yeah. About that...

Casinos don't produce anything that draws outside dollars into the local economy and cause dollars to leave the local economy. If you want money to come into the area, make it a favorable business climate once again so businesses that produce wealth (rather than strip it away) are enticed to come around. That'll put dollars in workers' pockets and in the government coffers without the side effects of corruption and addiction that come with casinos.

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19Jerry(861 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

At the moment I am not taking a position for or against allowing casino gambling in Ohio. That is not why I am writing.

Somebody really needs to explain to me why we need to add a 12 page amendment to the state constitution to accomplish this.

This 12 page monstrosity, obviously written by lawyers to be deliberately confusing, details the exact addresses of five casinos and 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 not allow competing interests and locations, to provide the best business opportunities? Why in the world 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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20Crowe(20 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Right, Fudputer, there's been addiction and gambling in Youngstown for so long we should just bring in an entire industry that is proven to feed corruption and gambling. Smart. We should enable bad activity rather than do what we can to prevent it.

How 'bout we open a topless strip joint in your living room? I mean, if it's all about choices, then we should just trust in people's better nature not to show up and objectify women and violate your personal space just because it's your living room...

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21hdridengrl05(1 comment)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I currently work in the casino industry. I worked in it back in the early 90's. Then I returned home to Youngstown to continue my education. With Mountaineer being built, I decided to go back to the casino industry. The money is much higher than you will find in any other industry. These are not menial jobs, and pay above minimum wage. Tragically, in order to further my career, I was forced to move out of state. It would be so nice to move back HOME, yes I said HOME. I can't afford to with the jobs that are currently offered. My mom isn't getting any younger and her health isn't getting any better, I would love to be close to her, but I need issue 3 to pass. Why can't anyone understand the jobs that casinos bring? I work at a casino that is covered by the steelworkers union. They pay union scale wages. I also have been witness to the money that is leaving the state to go to casino's in neighboring states. Those same people are going to go gamble, no matter how far or near the casino is. Why not have our state reap the benefits of the same people? I also read comments about it hurting smaller businesses, that just isn't the case. Near our casino, there are 4 hotels, that guests stay in, they eat in the nearby restaurants, they shop at the nearby stores. Many times the men chose to gamble while the wives venture out to do some shopping. It is understandable why Youngstown wouldn't get a casino. The amount of turnover business you have to have to sustain a casino by itself, would just simply not be available in Youngstown. However, the areas that they are suggesting, have larger populations, major international airports, racetracks, and other attractions. The shear volume of business would make it profitable. Unfortaunately, Youngstown would not be able to support a casino. Yes, we need the jobs, but you would need the guests to support it also. You cannot rely on local guests to support the costs of a casino. And frankly, who would want to? There are thousands of people like myself that would love to move back home and support our communities, pay our taxes and spend our money at home.

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22VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Slamdunk, hdridengrl !!!

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23MVP(67 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

If you don't want to gamble, don't go to the casinos. If I want to throw some money away on entertainment, that is my business whether it is gambling or dining or watching topless dancers. If you don't want to do those things, then don't but don't tell me that I can't! If you think all intelligent people will vote against it, then YOU are the moron. It is clear that some jobs will be created (construction and operation) and it WILL keep some people from taking their money, (emphasis on THEIR money, not YOURS) out of state. And those who argue that casino owners take all of the profits out of state should, by that logic, stop shopping at Walmart because here's a news flash, the Walton family doesn't live in Youngstown.

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24deonelynn(4 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I'd like to tell you, from someone who worked in the casinos and had a gambling addiction, having casinos in Ohio is a bad idea. Yes, the jobs that aren't filled by machines pay over minumum wage but barely and they do provide some benefits. However, the cost outweighs the benefits. While I was able to overcome my addiction before I lost everything there are many that don't. I have seen them declare bankruptcy and lose their houses. This will bring economic hardship to the area that already has problems. People instead of working will try to make a quick buck gambling but end up losing everything. Be smart vote no.

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25MVP(67 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

deonelynn, you make two faulty assumptions.

#1 You assume if issue 3 fails, people won't gamble. In fact, they will just continue to leave the state and spend their money elsewhere.

#2 You assert that a casino will bring economic hardship to the area because gambling addicts will lose thier homes, I guess by that logic we should shut down every bar in the Valley as well so alcholics will stop spoending all their money on booze.

People will always gamble whether it's church bingo, the lottery or in a casino. Why not let Ohio make the profits that have been going to WV etc.?

As for addictions, those who need it should get treatment and not try to legislate the object of their obsession out of business or ban it from their backyard.

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26jethead11(139 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't think jobs or tax base should be the sole issue. People want to gamble, and why should the government prevent them from doing so. Is there a public safety issue here? No. Especially if legalizing gambling DOES help create jobs and increases the tax base. Of course gambling has big-time negatives, but we are supposed to be a free country. There is so much we can't do in the freest nation on earth.

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27Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Unless a business is physically here in The Valley then you will only see the trickle down advantage . The true generation of wealth for an area ,state or nation is manufacturing . Casinos are a leach on society that enrichen a select few. Namely the owners and operators of the casino . The costs far outweigh the benefits to the general population .

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28deonelynn(4 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I did not make any assumptions. I know for a fact that people will gamble anywhere they can. We do not have to make it easy for people by setting casinos in their backyards. How much money do you really think is going to the state? I do not see WV in the lap of luxury. It's not like they have an extraordinary school system or less taxes or public transportation. What have they really gained from the casinos? The ones getting rich are the owners and politicians.

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29scrooge(563 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Betras is just holding a grudge because his pockets weren't lined.
Simple undeniable facts:
1) 4 casinos were placed in the largest cities (sorry Y-town not even close)
2) NET jobs will be INCREASED -- sure a few jobs will be lost due to surrounding businesses but even more jobs will be created within the casinos.
3) additional tax revenue REGARDLESS of it's origin is still more than we had to start with.
4) Cleveland is an easy commute if you really want a job (I do it every day) so get over it Y-town.

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30Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

This really should not be an amendment, this should go through the General Assembly if anything. It has no business on the Ohio Constitution.

I say split the state into gambling districts at a maximum 6 districts and six casinos allowed total (1 per district). Let the counties apply to the state if they have an interested developer of a casino, and have a gaming commission make the determination as to which county gets the casino in the district.

Give everyone a chance on this, do not restrict this only to the 3 C's and Toledo. Why do they always have to get everything? Quite frankly, with the exception of Cleveland and Toledo, the other two cities do not need the help.

A piece of legislation could address this a lot better than any amendment, and frankly legislation can be changed easier if a problem arises.

These are the main reasons I am against Issue 3.

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