06/29/2011 12:14PM

Ohio racetrack slots bill passed by legislature


A bill to allow video lottery machines at Ohio’s seven racetracks is scheduled to be signed into law by Gov. John Kasich on Thursday. Kasich authored the bill that was passed 27-6 in the Senate and then 64-32 in the House Tuesday. All seven Ohio racetracks are expected to apply with the Ohio Lottery commission for VLT licenses. The licensing fee would be $50 million for a 10-year license.

The legislation was part of a casino package that will allow racetracks to ask permission from the Ohio Racing Commission to relocate their facilities. Penn Gaming is expected to ask the commission to move Beulah Park in Columbus to the Dayton area and Raceway Park in Toledo to Youngstown. Penn Gaming owns the rights to build stand-alone casinos in both Columbus and Toledo under a 2009 constitutional amendment.

The legislation also contained a measure stating that casino’s will pay Ohio’s commercial activity tax not on all wagers placed, but on wagers after payouts to patrons are subtracted.

House Finance Chairman Ron Amstutz questioned whether lawmakers could make such a change legally as it alters the agreement made when the amendment to the state constitution was approved by voters. The tracks will pay 33.5 percent in taxes, the same as the four casino’s.

The horsemen must work out an agreement with the tracks as to how much revenue will go to the racing industry for purses and breed development.