The national economy is in sorry shape. Whatever the reason, the crappy economy means states, having less money coming in from traditional streams, are looking at ways to trim costs and increase revenue from alternative sources.
For example Governor Strickland recently announced that Ohio could raise around $73 million by adding video Keno to the list of games already run by the lottery commission.
The announcement has, of course, drawn fire from wingnut groups like Citizens for Community Values- while also receiving praise from many businesses (e.g. horse-racing tracks, bars and private clubs).
Personally- I think it’s a good start. But, taken in context, it’s not that big of a deal. Other states are proposing much bigger gambling initiatives to make up for their budget shortfalls.
Kentucky is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $900 million over the next two years. In addition to proposing severe budget cuts, Kentucky’s Governor, Steve Beshear, recently renewed his campaign promise to bring full-blown casino gambling to the state to help compensate.
California is facing a $14.5 billion deficit. To avoid increasing taxes, Governor Swarchenegger and the legislature made deals with four indian tribes to add thousands of slot machines to existing casinos and, in the process, add hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the state’s general fund.
Every state is having money problems right now. And every state is looking for solutions.
And while I’d really like to see full-blown, table-game-driven gambling in Ohio- I also know that Ohioians have voted against it recently so no Ohio politician is going to push too hard to promote REAL gaming in Ohio until more voters warm up to the idea.
Still- I believe Ted Strickland is doing his best to balance the budget while keeping his campaign promise to not raise taxes- and the lottery proposal seems like a good compromise.