According to the backers of the amendment, Learn and Earn Casinos will doom at least 109,000 Ohioans, and their families, to problem and pathological gambling addictions. This is not just a number. These are real people; people with families and jobs. Due to gambling greed, theft from employers will increase. Money will be spent on gambling that was meant for housing, food and clothing for their children. Our social services are already strained, but this amendment would cause more social ills, straining our local governments even further. While Issue 3 does set aside a small percentage of funds to aid gambling addiction, given the new addicts plus the current addicted population, L&E will provide about $78/addicted gambler/year. This amount won't even cover the cost of one hour of counseling per year.
Learn and Earn Casinos will place no money in the General Revenue Fund of Ohio; not one dollar for the State Treasury. The backers claim that “every community will benefit directly by the annual distribution of additional economic development funding.” The fact is that 201 cities and 30 townships in the “casino slots” counties will not get a penny from Issue 3. The remaining 83 counties will divide 2.4 percent of the designated “economic development funds.” The 2.4 is designated by law to help only non-slot counties.
The language of the amendment is very specific when addressing the exact locations of the casinos and the establishment of a 55 percent profit margin for a handful of private, out-of-state, casino owners. However, when it comes to the exact language of the scholarships and grants, confusion abounds.
Backers of the amendment claim that money will be made available to “all Ohio children,” but Learn and Earn loopholes leave thousands of Ohio students out in the cold. To qualify, students must attend state run, Ohio colleges. The 40 percent attending out-of-state or private colleges would receive nothing. Furthermore, children selecting home schooling, some forms of distance learning, or attending one of the many private high schools in Ohio, are excluded from the provisions of the amendment. There are also, no guarantees how much money will be paid out in scholarships, how much they will be worth, or when they will be paid. Information concerning “grants” for students in the top 5 percent is specific in the fact that they will end in just 12 years.
Issue 3 will not stop Ohioans from traveling to other states to gamble, but will grant licenses to out-of-state operators and drain more dollars from Ohio. Ohio casinos will drain an estimated $2 billion from the local economy costing Ohio jobs and closing many businesses. The Ohio Constitution is no place for the establishment of a mostly tax-free, private monopoly for a handful of privileged casino owners.
Many Ohio leaders, Democrat, Republican and Independent, urge every voting citizen to say no to Learn and Earn Casinos, and vote no on Issue 3. Those with Internet access can find out more by visiting: www.ohiolearnandearn.org.