Casino backers turn in more than 850K signatures

COLUMBUS — Backers of a plan to place casinos in Ohio’s four biggest cities turned in more than 850,000 petition signatures today, a week ahead of the submission deadline.

The group, which calls itself the Ohio Jobs & Growth Plan, is hopeful there will be enough valid names to meet the 402,275 required to put the issue before voters in November.

“People in Ohio care about jobs, and they care about new jobs, and that’s what this plan does,” said Charlie Luken, former mayor of Cincinnati who is heading the casino effort.

He added, “I think this clearly is the best plan that Ohio voters have ever had, and here’s why: It’s going to revitalize urban centers, it’s going to create jobs, and it’s going to create tax revenues that’s going to local communities and local school districts.”

If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment would allow single casinos in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo.

Backers say the sites would create about 20,000 jobs — that would include construction work, casino employees and workers at businesses that sprout up around the locations — and result in $1 billion in new private investment.

For the complete story, see Friday’s Vindicator and