The Belterra Casino in Indiana has been open since 2000. It was intentionally located close to Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio to draw in the out-of-state gamblers. And since none of the other nearby states allowed gambling at the time, their business was guaranteed to draw crowds.

I admit that I’ve spent my fair share of time and money there, as have a lot of other Ohioans. And Belterra knows this. As a result, they direct a good amount of their adverting directly at Ohioans. If you’ve driven down 315 in Columbus recently you’ve most likely seen a huge billboard advertising Styx playing at Belterra. And this is just one of many Belterra billboards in town.

Belterra makes money from Ohio. And so it makes sense that they are worried about the opening of Ohio’s casinos. If people in Cincinnati and Columbus have their own casinos, why would they drive hours away to Indiana to gamble?

Fortunately for Belterra, Ohio’s new Governor has spent months delaying decisions about Ohio’s Casinos despite the fact that billions of dollars in Casino investment have been delayed as a result of his inaction.

This is great news for Belterra but you have to wonder why, after spending the entire campaign talking up the importance of bringing new investment to Ohio, John Kasich has done nothing to help clear the way for this money to start flowing into out state.

It turns out we might have found the answer.

Enter Doug Preisse and Robert Klaffky.

Preisse and Klaffky are long time pals of Kasich. Klaffky worked as a lobbyist at Lehman Brothers with Kasich. Preisse, the former Franklin County GOP Chairman, “ran” Kasich’s transition committee (and was paid $100K in the process). There is MUCH more to talk about when it comes to the connections between these three but I don’t want to get distracted from the point here so please take my word when I say that these guys are more than just acquaintances.

And like many of John Kasich’s other friends, Preisse and Klaffky have suddenly become very sought-after lobbyists in Ohio.

Want to take a crazy, off the wall, totally wild guess as to who recently hired them both?

Pinnacle Entertainment. The owners of Belterra.

According to JLEC, Preisse and Klaffky are Pinnacle’s only two lobbyists in Ohio.

It’s hard not to see the connection here.

Kasich ran a campaign promising to bring new investment to Ohio, and Casino developers showed up with bells on, ready to help him deliver on that promise.

But even with BILLIONS of dollars ready to invest, casino developers are still being told they needed to wait. And wait. And wait some more. For months now. So Kasich can find a gambling expert to help him make up his mind.

Meanwhile, an Indiana casino is raking in tons of cash from Ohioans while paying big bucks to Kasich’s friends for their services as lobbyists. And the longer Kasich delays, the more money the Indiana casino makes.

I really want to give Governor Kasich the benefit of the doubt on this one, but I don’t think I can. I would really like to conclude that our Governor isn’t a big embarrassment to our state, but I’m having a hard time coming to any other conclusion. This looks like straight up political corruption. And I don’t use that term lightly.

Kasich promised to “get the lobbyists and the special interests snouts out of the trough” but it looks like all he’s done is limit trough access to his friends.

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  • Anonymous

    It won’t be long before Kasich appoints Jessie Oddi and Tom Noe to the casino board.

  • Annekarima

    Oh my, oh my, oh oh oh! I have been waiting for this one! So the dear fellows apparently learned their lessons well at Jack’s knee. Politico announced late winter that Abramhoff was last seen at that pizza place he was last known to work. Two possible scenarios: cement boots or he went to South America, got a new face and now calls himself something like Saul Abrams and is up to his old tricks. Or he is living a good clean life free of public eye.

  • Annekarima

    In case we forget. Leopards do not change their spots and apparently elephants do not learn from mistakes they do not forget:

  • Anon

    Great discussion, Joseph but why would you believe this “I really want to give Governor Kasich the benefit of the doubt on this one”…I don’t. He doesn’t care unless there is a payoff for him or his friends. Why help the people he was elected to help. He, no it is a monster with it’s jackboot on our throats. Why help the people who need jobs because we can’t buy him like the big dollar lobbyists can? The casino issue was a bad deal to begin with.

    K-suck is an embarrassment. He is evil, nasty, selfish developmentally delayed ~13 yo. He is another in a long line of erstwhile electeds who work for evil rich people only. This is more turning the government into a giant slush fund to rob again for evil rich. We don’t belong to his exclusive club. I am glad of it. All we can do is call him out on it and make him ineffective.

  • clambake

    …shades of Ralph Reed.

  • Anon

    Sorry I forgot….it is really simple….evil rich people over here, evil rich people over there….really big payoff for K-suck and his cronies.

  • So much for the speed of business. Let’s see.. waiting.. where did I hear something about how making business wait was a bad thing? Oh yes… I remember.. when Kasich and Nally made such a BIG deal about ushering a permit through the EPA. Hypocrisy, thy name is John Kasich.

  • By any definition this is corruption and SO typical of everything that’s done by this Governor! In four years we’ll be lucky to have anything left to save, they’re stealing the state blind!!

  • Herc

    It was just in the Dispatch today that Kasich is talking about ways to make the casinos pay more in taxes and whatnot, saying Ohio got a “bad deal” from them. I was really perplexed because this is the opposite you would expect from him after throwing millions at other corporations without batting an eye, and these casinos are going to bring in jobs and revenue that he can claim are his doing! At first I thought “hmmm, payback for Penn National not donating to his campaign perhaps?”. I couldn’t think of a better explanation for it, until I then came to this site and read this article. Now it makes COMPLETE sense. He has a personal motivation to stall Penn National in every way possible from building their casinos, because the minute they do his friends are going to take a hit in the pocketbook. He doesn’t owe anything to Penn National I presume, so he’s throwing them under the bus, which will be to our expense when he further delays jobs, tax revenue, and might even cause Penn National to pull out entirely and go somewhere else if they’re legally able to.

  • Xx

    The casino issue isn’t such a bad deal if you consider that they are going to be paying money to Ohio instead of taking money from Ohio. I would much rather have casino’s and good paying jobs that go with them than Bob Evan’s and the poor paying jobs that restaurant chain brings.

  • Anonymous

    Good reporting here Joseph, and I agree…it certainly seems to be a clear case of corruption here…to benefit FOK…friends of Kasich.

    Or does it? I keep reading this, and the articles in the Dispatch, and the Toledo Blade, and I can’t help but believe there is something deeper. I haven’t checked, but it is safe to assume that neither Penn National nor Dan Gilbert contributed to the Kasich campaign. They wouldn’t be treated this poorly if they had .

    This seems more like a vendetta against Penn National and/or Rock Gaming/Dan Gilbert. Don’t get me wrong…I dislike them just as much as Kasich seems to, and I certainly didn’t vote for the casinos. Kasich certainly dissed Gilbert’s campaign to keep Lebron in Cleveland when he said:

    “I’m not singing in any chorus for LeBron James”.

    So what exactly is it that Kasich has against Dan Gilbert? I don’t know, but Gilbert and Penn National are rich and well connected, and if Kasich costs them too much money, they might decide to teach him a lesson………..and I will be sitting in the front row watching!

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    more on these 2 “buds” of his –this was in the dispatch this morning( article about the prisons)
    “”Donald Thibaut, Kasich’s close friend and campaign adviser, is now a lobbyist for CCA, based in Nashville, Tenn. Robert F. Klaffky and Douglas J. Preisse, also formerly in the Kasich campaign’s inner circle, are lobbying partners representing a competing private prison firm, the CEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla.””

    AND the plot thickens …….. his friends are gonna own Ohio……..

  • Donna Mollaun

    Is the Ohio Ethics Commission involved in this investigation?

  • Anon

    Who says there are going to be good paying jobs? There is no guarantee of that. The guys who run casinos are just another version of evil rich guys stealing from the poor. Just because you get poor people to throw away money on “entertainment” doesn’t make it a good thing. . I would bet that there are loopholes like for other big corporations to dodge taxes. Casinos have not been a big driver of economic value unless the economy is doing better. Vegas and AC come to mind as well as Detroit.

    Has gambling saved Detroit? No!

    Hey, I welcome your opinion but I am not counting on the Casino business improving anyone’s wallet except for Dan Gilbert and his friends. Money staying here…some will but not all. When people are desperate, they will vote for anything. Ohioans do not have a great track record for voting for their own economic interests……they seem to vote for evil rich people’s. Where are those jobs from the tax cuts for evil rich people again? There didn’t create any jobs here. Or, the jobs are on Wall $treet or for Rethug politicians looking for the next set of non-rich people to rob. That is what their tax cuts have done. You will pardon me if I am more than skeptical about anything “touted” to create jobs.

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