05/26/2004 11:00PM

Slots bill defeated in Ohio


The Ohio House of Representatives defeated a bill on Wednesday night that would have allowed for a referendum on slot machines at the state's seven racetracks.

The bill, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass because it would have amended the state's constitution, was defeated 57-40. The legislation had previously passed in the Senate.

Supporters of the bill could still mount a petition drive to get the issue on the Nov. 2 ballot. Such a drive would need to gather 323,000 signatures from registered voters by Aug. 4 to qualify.

The bill would have given 48 percent of the proceeds from the slot machines to the racing industry. The remainder was to be used to fund education.

Education lobbyists opposed the bill, and in a letter to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, called slot machines "fund-raising gimmicks that are not stable or reliable for education programs."