Legalization of Gambling in Ohio
The words Casinos and Gambling are often associated with gangsters,
prostitution, murderers, and all the illegal operations one could think of.
Those kinds of stereotypes are picked up in movies like “Casino” and the
countless other gangster and casino related movies that are based in the 50’s,
60’s, and 70’s, but that was then and this is now. “While there may be some
vestigial ties between organized crime and casinos, gambling is now big
business” (Weissman 1). “The term gambling or ‘gaming’ as the industry
calls it, means any legalized form of wagering or betting conducted in a
casino, on a riverboat, on an Indian reservation, or at any other location
under the jurisdiction of the United States” (National Gambling Impact Study
Commission Act). The hobby of gambling is a part of most people lives.
Casual bets on the Bulls and Knicks game or a weekend poker game at your
buddies house are both forms of gambling. Gambling is a multi-billion dollar
industry and Amy J. Seifert said in her article The Stakes that “gambling has
become one of the nation’s fastest growing industries” (Seifert 2). Ohio can
get a piece of that if they legalize all forms of gambling.
Gambling, like baseball, is a national pastime. Gambling is deeply
imbedded in the history of United States.
Many settlers in Jamestown had their passageway paid for by the sale
of lottery tickets. The revolutionary army was funded by lottery tickets
also–Gen. George Washington bought the first one. In the 18th
Century, buildings at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton were financed by
lotteries (History of Gambling…1).
Many people of the 1800’s wouldn’t be caught dead without a deck of
cards. “Despite it’s illegality, gambling during the 1860’s was a popular
pastime among the miners of Virginia City and Gold hill… A deck of cards
was as much a part of a miner’s possessions as was the pick with which he
unearthed silver from the mines” (History of Gambling…1). The first
territorial legislature that outlawed games of chance wasn’t written until
1861(History of Gambling…1), but the law was unenforced. Probably
because the cops themselves were playing. Nothing could be done to stop
gambling so they tried to regulate it. “In 1869 when the state legislature
enacted a law requiring a license to operate a game, the state and local
governments filled their coffers with the fees charged gaming operators”
(History of Gambling…1). Nevada legislature ordered all gambling
establishments to close their doors in 1910 (History of Gambling…1).
So what does someone do when something becomes outlawed? They
go underground, and that’s what people did. “During the ban, gangsters ‘Big
Bill’ Graham and Jimmy ‘The Couch’ Mckay operated illegal halls and
monopolized prostitution and bootlegging when prohibition was enacted in
1919” (History of Gambling…1).
When the Great Depression set-in, everyone looked for ways to make
some money. “During the depression, state legislators sought out ways to
increase state revenues. Phil Tobin, a Nevada legislator from Winnemucca
argued that since gambling still existed despite laws banning it, the state
should legalize gambling and tax it. They did” (History of gambling…1). In
1931, the state of Nevada legalized gambling.(History of Gambling…1).
“Casino gaming did not become a major industry until after World War II,
when it flourished in response to increasing social acceptance and population
booms in California and other western states” (History of Gambling…1).
The first respectable casinos were built in Reno by the Smiths and Bill
Harrah in the mid-1930’s. The Smiths and his partners opened Harolds Club
and Harrah opened Harrah’s (History of Gambling…1). Those clubs were
alright but nothing compared to the casino being built down south in Las
Vegas. “Las Vegas was a small town until gangster Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegal
changed the city’s character forever by constructing it’s first lavish
hotel-casino in 1945” (Gambling-Encarta). It was know as the Flamingo.
The casino industry started and there was no looking back. Nevada’s
economy exploded and has made trillions to date.
Gambling isn’t just rolling the dice and praying for a seven or eleven.
There are many different types of legalized gambling. The most obvious
being casino-style gambling. Someone could play roulette, card and dice
games, slot machines, and electronic games such as video poker and video
slots. Other forms of gambling include Horse racing-the wagering of money
on the outcome of a horse race, Indian gambling-the gambling allowed on
Indian owned land. “In 1988, Congress passed the Indian Gaming
Regulatory Act which reestablished the right of sovereign Indian tribes to run
casinos on their land without having to follow the gambling laws of the state
they occupy” (Kolasky 2). “One-third of the country’s 557 federally
recognized tribes offer some form of gaming” (Berns 2).
More forms of gambling include charitable gambling-serves as a
fund-raiser for nonprofit organizations, Riverboat gambling-the casino-style
gambling on a boat in the water, Sports betting-the wagering of money on the
outcome of sports games, Internet gambling-gambling over the Internet, and
probably the most used of all is lotteries-the buying of numbered tickets in
which prizes given out to those whose numbers are drawn. The only forms of
gambling allowed in the state of Ohio are lotteries, horse racing, and
charitable gambling such as bingo (Drinkard 2)
Along with the legal forms there are also illegal forms of gambling.
It’s illegal when someone makes a bet, lets say on the outcome of a sporting
event, with a non-licensed bookie. A bookie is a person who people call up
or met with to place bets with, usually on sports. A non-licensed bookie is
someone who is not registered and does not have a licenses Another form of
illegal gambling would be any kind of gambling in a non-regulated casino
type facility. For example, if the place where someone gambles does not
have the appropriate licenses and does not pays taxes then that is an illegal
form of betting.
The amount of money available in gambling is almost endless. The
legalization of all forms of gambling in Ohio would give the state millions of
dollars of extra money.
The Ohio initiative specifies that casino revenues, after pay out of
winnings to gamblers, will be taxed 20 percent, with 80 percent of the
collected monies going to fund schools. Kate Hubben, a spokesperson
for Yes on One, the group campaigning for passage of the gambling
initiative, says the tax is expected to raise $180 million to $200 million
for Ohio schools. ‘While that certainly won’t solve’ all the problems
facing the schools, she says, it would buy 62,000 computers and 4.56
million text books (Weissman 3).
The term “Yes on One” that Hubben refers to was Issue 1 on the Nov.
5th ballot in 1996. Issue 1 was the proposed constitutional amendment to
allow casino gambling in Ohio. It’s unfortunate to say that Issue 1 did not
pass. It was voted down by a count of 2,659,076 against it to only 1,639,955
for it (Official Report of Votes for Statewide Issue 1). If Issue 1 would of
been passed, the schools of Ohio would have had millions of dollars in their
pockets. Schools could buy more than just new books and computers. For
example, they could hire more teaches to cut down class sizes, build new
state of the art school buildings, buy safer and better equipment for there
schools sports, buy safer and more fun playground equipment for younger
grades, buy new buses, increase the number of elective classes and extra
curricular activities for students. The possibilities are almost endless.
To understand the economic benefits of the legalizing of all forms of
gambling in Ohio, one needs only to look at the numbers. A report by Megan
M. Atkinson titled California: An Overview states:
In 1996, the estimated revenue for the gambling industry nationwide
in 1996 was $47.7 billion. Casino gambling (not including Indian
casinos) received the largest share of revenue, with a total of $17.5
billion, or nearly 37 percent, of the nationwide total. Lotteries grossed
the next largest share of gambling revenue totaling $16.2 billion, or 34
percent, of the total (Atkinson 3).
In 1995 Indian gambling raked in $4.5 billion (Drinkard 2). In
California, “Indian gambling has experienced dramatic growth in recent
years. Revenues have grown from an estimated $120 million in 1991 to $5.4
billion in 1996–a 114 percent annual growth rate” (Atkinson 4). Amy Seifert
In Minnesota the economic benefits of gambling include millions of
dollars raised for the state’s general fund, charities and an
environmental trust fund as well as benefits to Indian communities who
are building schools, clinics, roads and businesses through their
casinos” (Seifert 2).
“In 1996, estimated gross gambling revenues for the California
gambling industry totaled $2.3 billion” (Atkinson 6).
The providence’s of Canada are another good example of the
profitability of gambling. “
Annual reports for 1994-95 show that the casinos in Montreal and
Charlevois took in $363.2 million in gross revenues, the
casino in Windsor grossed $418.9 million, and the Crystal Casino in
Winnipeg reportedly gross revenues of $19.6 million for a four-casino
total of $801.7 million” (Gambling: A Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry).
Money isn’t the only advantage of the legalization of gambling. The
next biggest factor is the amount of jobs that casinos bring to a city. Kate
Hubben says “the casinos [in Ohio] would create 21,000 permanent jobs,
with an average salary of $25,000, as well as 17,000 temporary construction
jobs” (Weissman 3). Frank Fahrenkopf, the president of the American
Gaming Association, said, “For state governments, casinos were a way to
find jobs for people out of employment and to pump money and capital
investment into the economy” (Kolasky 2). For a corporation to build a
casino they need alot of help. Opportunities for business in a casino area are
very high. Such opportunities would involve construction of new casino
facilities and related real estate developments consisting of hotels and
shopping centers as well as actual management and operation of the casino.
“Casinos directly and indirectly employ one million people, asserts Kelley
Gannon, communications director for the AGA, and, she says, they ‘generate
a lot of [tax] revenue at the state and local levels’”(Weissman 1). The jobs
are almost endless.
The growth of tourism is also an advantage of gambling. Visitors
would come to Ohio and want to bring back souvenirs from their trip. This
gives many residents of Ohio a good chance to bring in some extra dough by
selling souvenirs. The tourists will need places to sleep, eat, relax, and have
a good time. The growth of tourism in Ohio will positively effect almost
every business and community.
Casinos also give alot of money to charity. Local organizations
could profit from the legalization of gambling. “Atlantic City’s casinos
contribute $300 million a year to state programs for the elderly and disabled”
The legalization of gambling is a great way for the state of Ohio to
make money. The president of the American Gaming Association Frank
Fahrenkopf says that “not only does revenue go up for the hotel industry (and
others directly effected by gambling), but retail sales go up across the whole
community” (Kolasky 2). The legalization of gambling is also away to avoid
raising taxes. Usually when a state or country needs money, the first thing
they do is hike up the taxes. Gambling will combat that. There’s so much
money out there for the taking and Ohio should take a piece.
Atkinson, Megan M. Gambling in California: An Overview. [Online]
Berns, Dave. Talks turn to morality of gaming. [Online] Available http://
Drinkard, Jim. “Campaign finance.” USA TODAY [Online] 12 February
Flander, Scott. “Gambling on the future.” Philadelphia Daily News [Online]
3 February 1997.
GAMBLING: A MULTI-BILLION-DOLLAR INDUSTRY. [Online]
Available http://www.ccsa.ca/gmbi.htm, February 26, 1999
“Gambling.” Encarta Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM, 1997.
History of Gambling Adds to Nevada’s Colorful Past. [Online] Available
http://www.laketahoe.com/About/Gamhist.htm, February 26, 1999.
Kolasky, Bob. Issue of the Week: Fighting Long Odds. [Online] Available
February 22, 1999
NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION ACT.
[Online] Available http://www.ngisc.gov/c-law.html, February 20,
“Neon Night in Las Vegas.” Encarta Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM,
Official Report of Votes for Statewide Issue 1. [Online] Available http://
www.state.oh.us/sos/dpatlarg.html, March 1, 1999
Seifert, Amy J. The stakes. [Online] Available http://www.churchstreetumc.
org/ present2.html, February 28, 1999.
Weissman, Robert. A BAD BET Casino Economics and the Politics of
Gambling [Online] Available http://prince.essential.org/monitor/
hyper/mm1196.04. html, February 10, 1999.