10/17/2003 12:00AM

Ohio Senate OK's slots vote

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The Ohio Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow voters to determine whether slot machines should be legal at tracks, but the bill's passage in the state House is uncertain.

According to reports, leaders in the House have raised objections to the bill because some of the money from slots would be earmarked for college scholarships and school construction. The House leaders said the money would be better used to reduce a sales-tax increase that went into effect earlier this year.

The bill would allow voters to approve up to 2,500 slot machines at each of Ohio's seven racetracks. The referendum would appear on the March, 2004, ballot. The bill sets aside 52 percent of the slot-machine revenue for the education programs.

Earlier this year, the Ohio Senate rejected a House-led bill that would have put a similar referendum on this year's November ballot. That bill would have used proceeds from the slots to pay for prescription drugs for seniors as well as for scholarships.