Interview with Bob Tenenbaum (05/19/09)
By John Wynne Jr.
This is an interview conducted on May 19, 2009 with Bob Tenebaum. Tenebaum is the spokesman for the 2009 Ohio Casino Initiative.
1. Is this Ohio casino petition considered an “Initiated Constitutional Amendment” or an “Initiated Statute”?
This is a proposed amendment to Article XV, Section 6 of the Ohio Constitution.
2. How many times have voters defeated casino initiatives in the past? What were the years of those defeats?
There have been four previous casino initiatives. Voters rejected casino issues in 1990, 1996, 2006 and 2008.
3. Why is this initiative more likely to be approved by voters than initiatives in the past?
The Ohio Jobs and Growth Plan is the right proposal at the right time. It is far superior to previous ballot issues in that it:
- Authorizes first-class casinos in the downtown areas of Ohio’s four largest cities;
- Mandates a total of $1 billion in private investment in the casinos (minimum of $250 million for each casino development);
- Creates 20,000 new Ohio jobs at a time when the state’s unemployment rate has risen above 9 percent.
- Sets the tax on casino gross revenues at a fixed 33 percent, providing $651 million in tax revenue each year (growing to an estimated $772 million annually by 2017) for all 88 Ohio counties, every public school district in the state and the eight largest cities.
- Requires upfront payment of $200 million in license fees to be used by the state for job training programs.
Recent independent polling has reaffirmed that Ohioans favor casino gaming by a significant margin (58% in a recent Ohio Poll from the University of Cincinnati).
4. Are the four casinos going to all be the exact same?
No. Each casino development will be designed to fit its unique location.
5. Are these casinos going to be Las Vegas style casinos?
These will be first-class casino developments, offering table games, slot machines, and many of the amenities of casinos in Las Vegas and other locations around the country.
- Slot machines? Yes
- Card tables? Yes. The amendment authorizes table games available at gaming facilities in Ohio’s neighboring states.
- Alcohol sales? Consistent with Ohio’s alcoholic beverages licensing laws.
- Smoking? No. Ohio law prohibits smoking in indoor public facilities.
- Open 24/7? Yes
6. In years past, we have seen organized opposition to casino petition drive campaigns. Even the proponents of the current Ohio casino campaign have actively opposed Ohio casinos in the past. Do you know of any organized opposition to this campaign?
We know that several groups which traditionally oppose any expansion of gaming in Ohio will oppose this issue.
7. If this initiative is defeated by voters, will there be another petition drive effort next year? We are confident that this issue will find favor with the voters in November. It would be pure speculation to predict what might happen in the future.
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