Published June 19, 2006
Reports out of Cincinnati suggest that if there is a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to permit casino-style gambling in Ohio, the city of Cleveland will be the big winner. A group in Cincinnati has decided not to push its own amendment, which would have given that city a place at the table.
And that resurrects a question posed in this site several months ago: Will the Mahoning Valley derive any financial benefit from the two slot-machine casinos that would be located in downtown Cleveland and the slot machines that each of the seven horse-racing tracks around the state would offer?
The answer: Not unless there is a political, business or community leader or leaders willing to negotiate a deal with the Cuyahoga County commissioners and Cleveland city officials. As things now stand, the Valley isn't being given a second thought by the individuals pushing the constitutional amendment. But make no mistake about it, Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties will be targeted for votes. After all, this region has a well-earned reputation as a mecca for gambling albeit, illlegal (at least during the heydey of the Mafia.)
Cuyahoga commissioners, including Valley native Tim Hagan, and Cleveland's mayor and council should be told that a piece of the financial action will ensure that there is no organized oppostion to the constitutional amendment. It doesn't really matter if the Valley's leaders come out in favor of the ballot issue. But it does make a difference to the campaign if they come out against it. That should be the threat hanging over Cleveland's head.
No one in Cuyahoga County is dumb enough to say, "Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties be damned." If the constitutional amendment is defeated in this region, it will lose statewide.
Individuals of some standing in the Valley need to carry the ball. Who will that be? Or, who should that be?