Updated: Monday, 15 Nov 2010, 8:32 AM EST
Published : Monday, 15 Nov 2010, 8:32 AM EST
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich wants to study a plan to put lottery-run video slot machines at the state's horse racetracks, a move that has the Lottery Commission in a holding pattern on the proposal.
The Republican Kasich is not against the plan, but wants to take a "comprehensive look" at gambling in the state, spokesman Rob Nichols tells the Akron Beacon Journal for a Saturday story on its website.
"Like a lot of Ohioans, John has mixed emotions about gambling," Nichols said. "He doesn't really gamble but he's not opposed to it. He thinks gambling comes with costs to society that must be addressed and minimized, but the revenue can be valuable."
The Legislature approved the slots proposal from Gov. Ted Strickland in 2009 to raise as much as $933 million to balance the budget.
Subsequently, voters approved casinos that are now under development in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo, where tax revenues will mostly benefit local governments, not state coffers.
The slots plan has been sidelined by a legal challenge, and Strickland was working to resolve the issues. Opponents say the machines are illegal gambling devices outside the state's constitutional definition of a legal lottery.
Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said the governor believes slots at racetracks are "an important revenue source for future budgets and will help the struggling equine industry in Ohio.
"Ultimately, this issue will be resolved under the next administration."
The Lottery Commission has plans on hold until Kasich makes a decision.
"When the new administration makes it clear to us which direction we should be moving, then we'll know," Lottery Commission spokeswoman Jeannie Roberts told the newspaper. "Other than that, we're treading water."
Track owners have said slots would help protect 17,000 jobs at their facilities.
They aren't concerned about Kasich's election and are optimistic he will be fair when studying the slots issue, said Thomas Aldrich, chief operating officer and executive vice president at Northfield Park in northeast Ohio.
"It seems pretty natural to me that they would be cautious about it, and I think the racetracks and Northfield Park have to be patient and give the governor-elect and his team the chance to go through the review process," he said.