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.