Ted Strickland announced his plan today to offset the projected budget deficit.

In addition to the ‘belt-tightening’ measures, his plan also involves expanding the Ohio Lottery to include Keno machines in restaurants and bars. The increased revenue (est. $73 million) will go to fund education.

After hearing the news, Voinovich emails the Dispatch with his comments, urging “the legislature to reject this idea” saying it would “be a foot in the door for full-blown gambling.”

George should have spent a little time researching his comments.

For starters, the Lottery Commission already has statutory authority to run games of chance- and they can vote to expand to selection of games to include keno without the approval of the legislature.

Secondly, there is absolutely no evidence to support his claim that Keno in bars will lead to full-blown gambling.

I can tell you from experience that many state lotteries have similiar Keno games- and it has not led to an expansion of gambling.

When I worked in Atlanta earlier this year- I played Keno in bars all the time and I didn’t become a Keno addict. It’s really no different than buying a scratch-off ticket at the corner store- it’s just slightly more exciting and, more importantly, available when and where you’d like to play.

The Georgia Lottery has been running their Keno drawings since 1995- and in 13 years the state has yet to become a hotbed of gambling expansion.