Across the nation, Nov. 4 was a good day for opponents of gambling expansion and state-sponsored casinos – there were more victories than defeats in both large and small venues.
The greatest victory was in Ohio. Voters there rejected a $600 million casino proposal in southwestern Ohio. This was the fourth statewide vote in Ohio since 1990, with the casinos losing every time. Tens of millions were spent on each side of the issue as the southeast Indiana casinos engaged the expansionists as they tried to protect their marketing region. In other words, the people of Ohio simply became pawns as casino tycoons battled for their turf. Fortunately, southern Ohio will not have to deal with all the damage local casinos bring into an area.
In other positive actions, voters in Guam rejected casinos for resorts on the island and Massachusetts citizens voted to eliminate dog racing by Dec. 31, 2010. Maine, in its third such vote in recent years, appears to have rejected yet another casino, although the count has yet to be certified.
The major loss of the day was in Maryland. Voters there approved slots for three counties, the city of Baltimore and one state park in the western panhandle. Expansion opponents said their next stand would be taken on the local level where counties and the city must change local zoning laws to allow casino gambling, and sanction the location. This too will likely become a major struggle.
A second general area of law where opponents of casinos lost was with regard to loss limits. Missouri, the last major casino state to set limits to protect gamblers, lifted its loss limits of $6000 per day. This many years long battle saw the opponents finally overwhelmed by unlimited money spent by the casinos advertising campaign and the seductive promises of more revenue for community colleges as the enticement. Betting limits were also raised from $5 per hand to $100 at the casinos in Colorado. Again, the promise of revenue in day’s hard economic times, without considering the source of the money, carried the day. Casinos in Las Vegas spent over $7 million to get this law changed.