Casino panel has meeting

By Marc Kovac


The voter-approved Casino Control Commission had its first meeting of the year Monday, restarting a process stalled after the Ohio Senate rejected all of the panel’s original appointments.

Chairwoman Jo Ann Davidson called the meeting to order and retraced the steps taken by Gov. Ted Strickland’s failed appointees back in October — hearing presentations on ethics, open meetings, public records and criminal prosecution issues.

And Davidson, the former speaker of the Ohio House named by Gov. John Kasich to head the casino commission, reiterated the need to ensure public confidence in gaming oversight, much the same way short-time commission Chairman Rocky Saxbe did more than four months ago.

“We’re going to move as quickly as we possibly can in this particular process, but it’s most important that we do this process right,” Davidson said, adding later, “Our goal is [to] put the right people in the right places and under the right systems so that we start out actually assuring the voters of Ohio that what they supported and what their expectations were actually is going to be a reality.”

The seven-member commission was created as part of the ballot issue OK’d by voters in 2009 that paved the way for casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.

The commission will be responsible for licensing and regulating casinos, including investigating and penalizing operators who break the law. One of the group’s first orders of business will be recruiting staff.

Members will be paid about $60,000 per year for their work. They are required to have one meeting per month.

The original panel included seven members appointed by Strickland before his loss to Kasich in the November general election. The Republican-controlled Ohio Senate subsequently rejected all of Strickland’s selections, deferring the appointments to the new Republican governor.

Kasich named his choices last month, including Davidson; Sgt. McKinley Brown, chief of detectives in the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office; attorney and former Congressman Martin Hoke from the Cleveland area; Columbus accountant Ranjan Manoranjan; Toledo attorney Peter Silverman; Akron attorney John Steinhauer; and June Taylor, president and chief executive officer of a private-equity fund based in Cleveland.

The Ohio Senate is reviewing the appointments and could sign off on them later this week. Lawmakers also will have to change state law to allow additional time for the casino commission to develop licensing rules and regulations.

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