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Kasich unaware of $300M proposal; others call it illegal

Published: Tue, January 18, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

By David Skolnick



The developers of a proposed $300 million complex in the Mahoning Valley with a horse racetrack, resort, golf course, stores and possibly a casino with slot machines haven’t spoken with Gov. John Kasich.

They also don’t have a license to operate a racetrack.

Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesman, told The Vindicator on Monday that the governor wants a comprehensive study done on gambling in Ohio before any decision can be made on allowing slot machines at racetracks.

“The governor recognizes it can bring in considerable revenue, but there are societal issues” that come with legalizing that form of gambling, Nichols said.

The state Legislature, at the request of then-Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, voted in June 2009 to permit slot machines — called video lottery terminals, or VLTs — in the state’s seven horse racetracks.

The state’s share of the VLT revenue would have helped offset its budget deficit.

But an organization that said the governor and Legislature overstepped their constitutional authority filed a lawsuit to stop the process. The lawsuit still sits in the Ohio Supreme Court.

“It’s a complicated process,” said Rick Lertzman, chairman of the Mahoning Valley Development Group, the organization proposing the complex in the Valley.

He added that if Kasich, a Republican, permits VLTs at racetracks through the Ohio Lottery, they’ll be legal.

When asked if Kasich has “executive privilege” to legalize slots, Nichols said, “If that’s the case, Strickland would have done it.”

Even without VLTs, Lertzman said his company is ready to move forward with a hotel and racetrack that would take 18 months to complete.

Lertzman, a former business consultant, declined to disclose the location of the project but said his company owns 200 acres in the Valley that would house the complex.

He also declined to disclose the names of any investors except that Bradford Pressman, a retired podiatrist, is involved with the project. Most of the money would come from the other investors, Lertzman said.

Lertzman and Pressman will have a press conference at 11:30 a.m. today at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman to discuss the project and its location.

Lertzman said his company has been in contact with the Ohio State Racing Commission, which oversees the state’s horse tracks, for the past two years.

“It seems like everything looks fine,” he said. “Right now, we meet all the regulations.”

Officials with the commission couldn’t be reached by The Vindicator on Monday. The office was closed because of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The commission hasn’t granted a new horse racetrack license in at least 60 years, Lertzman noted.

State Reps. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, and Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, said the proposal sounds far-fetched.

Hagan said he thinks having a race track with slot machines: “is illegal and unconstitutional. ... I’m looking at it with a jaundice eye and as promises that can’t be kept.”

Gerberry said, “Who in their right mind has $300 million without a [horse racing] license? Why in the world would the Ohio Racing Commission approve an eighth track when the other seven are going broke? It’s doesn’t make any sense. How gullible are we?”


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

WOW! for the first time in the history of the world Gerberry and Hagan both made sense!

If the "developers" were legit, they'd be more open. Maybe they are going to open at the same site as the billion dollar steel plant in Campbell.

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2timOthy(802 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Bring it on! It will create jobs even if they are LOW paying ones ! I don't gamble so it will not effect me one way or the other ! Only LOSERS gamble.

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Tar and feather these illegal developers and run them out of the mahoning valley on a rail.

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4Dafine(14 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Ok--so where is Jimbo? I betcha it's his idea again.

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5faith(200 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Hey non-unionforever, can't take the rail cuz Kasick gave that $400,000,000.00 away.

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6theword(342 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago


You took the words right out of my mouth. I was thinking the same thing that it was going next to the new state of the art steel mill that ex-Mayor Kraznois had brought to the city..

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7redvert(2196 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

In boom times maybe there would be some credibility to a plan like this, but not now in my opinion.

Florida has a lot of the casinos, poker rooms and cruise ships and tend to do okay because the Florida economy is tourist based. The Mahoning valley is not a tourist attraction.

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8arteesto(22 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

In 2009, 4 CASINOS were voted on and approved by the people of Ohio for Casino development in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. To date, construction has not begun on any of them.
The people of Columbus do not want a casino in Columbus, so the license to build a casino in Columbus can be transfered to Youngstown. A matter of formality by the Ohio Attorney General.
The developers behind the proposal of a race track/slots etc. in Youngstown will encounter many road blocks and it will end up that a resolution initiative will have to be put on this Novembers state wide ballot and voted on and passed by the people of Ohio.
Take the SURE FIRE WAY INITIATIVE to get a casino plus in Youngstown Rick Lertzman.
Contact the Columbus developers who have the license to build a casino in Columbus to bring their Casino development license to Youngstown and be a part of your initiative...Then you can say...IT WILL BE A SURE BET TO GET A CASINO IN YOUNGSTOWN...GUARANTEED!

Pat M....Casino Guy

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9JME(801 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I'll venture to say Penn National won't pull out of Columbus in favor of Youngstown.
Don't think Attorney General has the authority to change locations. If you recall, Ohio voters had to approve the change in Columbus locations last spring from the Arena District to the westside.

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10pines16137(1 comment)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Here is something else to consider as the owner of a Equine Rescue I would like to ask anyone who is involved with this idea just what are they going to do about the health, protection, preservation and alternative career options for the thoroughbreds when their racing or breeding careers are over? They really need to take this into consideration remember "they have no voice"

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11dd933(299 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

We have plenty of land on the far east side of Youngstown - the shrimp farm could be a water hazard on the new golf course.

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12candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

...I may be the only one who makes money on this deal. I'll bet Stan $10.00 it never opens.


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