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Ohio governor reverses position and supports casino gambling

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June 19, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH Gov. Ted Strickland announced his support Friday of a plan for slot machines at seven horse racing tracks as a way to help balance the state budget. Strickland has long opposed the expansion of gambling, but said he believes it is the best option for avoiding the painful budget cuts facing the state.

"This has been a difficult choice for me but I believe a necessary one," said Strickland. "It is contrary to what I ever thought I would have to do." The state revenue from legalizing slot machines is estimated at $765 million. The state budget is about $54 billion.

The governor said legislative action rather than a vote of the people was required to provide revenue quickly enough to avoid a tax increase.

Strickland is still opposed to the petition to add a ballot measure to the November election that would establish casinos in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.

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