10/18/2011 12:59PM

Ohio governor signs order to expedite slots at racetracks

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The Ohio Lottery Commission on Monday passed several rules governing slot machines at Ohio racetracks after Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order allowing the rules to go into effect on an expedited basis.

The executive order allows the lottery commission to approve rules without undergoing a 75-day state review process, to the benefit of casino companies and racetrack owners that are eager to obtain gambling licenses from the state. In the order, Kasich said that he had determined that an “emergency exists” in the state, citing the revenues the slot machines could provide to the state.

Earlier this year, Kasich reached a deal with casino companies to allow slot machines at racetracks through the Ohio Lottery Commission. The state’s seven racetracks, including its three Thoroughbred tracks, have been authorized to operate a total of 17,500 machines, and they are expected to begin submitting applications for licenses within the next four months.

All three of Ohio’s Thoroughbred racetracks have been purchased by casino companies in the last year. Penn National, which owns Beulah Park near Columbus, has said that it will apply to relocate Beulah to Dayton, to avoid competing with a casino it is already building in Columbus.

The existing rules require racetrack owners to invest $150 million in their casinos and pay a $50 million licensing fee. Unlike most other states, racetrack casinos in Ohio will not be required to subsidize their horseracing operations with slot-machine revenues, and Kasich’s earlier order authorizing the machines gives the state the right to set agreements between tracks and horsemen if they cannot come to terms on revenue-sharing contracts prior to the casinos opening.