The Ohio Senate voted Jan. 26 to approve a proposed constitutional amendment that would permit voters to authorize a change in location for the Columbus casino. Senate Joint Resolution 8 was sponsored by Senators David Goodman (R- New Albany) and Jim Hughes (R- Columbus).
On Nov. 3, Ohio voters approved State Issue 3 to build four casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus. Although the proposal was defeated in Franklin County, the measure specified that the Columbus casino was to be built in the downtown Arena District. Following opposition to the Arena District site from residents and community leaders, Goodman and Hughes worked in conjunction with city and county officials as well as legislators and representatives from casino developer Penn National to find an alternative location.
“Thanks to the efforts of state and local leaders, we were able to come together and find a new location for the Columbus casino that is acceptable to both residents and casino officials, Goodman said. With the approval of SJR 8, we are one step closer to resolving this issue and moving the project forward.
Last week, Penn National announced a deal to move the casino to the former Delphi facility on the western side of Franklin County, pending voter approval. Hughes and Goodman noted that if approved by voters, SJR 8 would change only the location of the casino in Columbus – the sites for the casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo would not be affected.
“Moving the casino site to the Westside will allow the Delphi plant to be redeveloped, creating new jobs and spurring additional economic development in an area that has been hit hard by the recession, Hughes said.
Senate Joint Resolution 8 now moves to the Ohio House for further consideration, where it must pass by February 3 in order to appear on the May primary ballot. Legislators are continuing to work on the implementing language for the operation of the casinos.