Gov. Ted Strickland's plan to boost Ohio's struggling economy anticipates $73 million in new revenue from an expansion of the lottery, which includes a video version of Keno to be offered in bars and other age-controlled venues.
The governor said he distinguishes the new games from the video gambling machines outlawed in 2007 because they will be "state-monitored, state-controlled and state-regulated." His spokesman, Keith Dailey, said the Keno game is much different from video slot machines outlawed in 2007, because numbers are selected in the fashion of other lottery games and winners are displayed on a video monitor.
"It's not like Tic Tac Fruit, where you sit in front of the machine all day pumping in quarters," he said.
Diane Howard, an employee of the Golden Penny Skilled Gaming Arcade in Newark, said re-introducing cash gaming machines — even if they were state-issued — would be a boon for a business struggling since the cash-prize machines were outlawed.
The arcade now operates on a prize redemption system, where customers trade in tickets for prizes instead of receiving cash.
She estimated business is down about 40 percent since they switched to prize redemption.
"I think they should have (the machines)," she said. "I don't think it's hurting anyone."
Wes Haberman, of Granville, said the machines could generate cash that normally flows out of state, adding Ohio should establish its own casinos if the machines are being considered.
"I wish they would have casinos in Ohio so people wouldn't drive to West Virginia," he said.
Matthew Castle, of Newark, said the government should more closely analyze the economy before taking action.
"I think (the lottery expansion) is a false solution. I think we need to look at what's really wrong with the economy," he said. "It just seems more or less that it's a diversion tactic."
Strickland said he can make the lottery changes without legislative approval, but he needs their help to enact many of the other proposals.
U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, a former Republican governor of the state, also disagreed with the Strickland administration's characterization of the games — suggesting that adding the game goes against the wishes of Ohioans who have voted against expanded gambling proposals three times.
"This is in no way an expansion of the lottery," he said. "From a public policy standpoint, I urge the Legislature to reject this idea and do what I did when I was governor in this situation, which was to work harder and smarter and do more with less. This would be a foot in the door for full-blown gambling and, once that happens, Katie bar the door."
State Rep. Jay Hottinger said that should be reason for speculation.
"They said that's something they can do without legislative authority," Hottinger said. "At first glimpse, I'd have to question that.
"Expansion of gambling and the lottery is a contentious issue. Government should derive revenue from people's strengths, not (their) weaknesses. But, even if it's included, I don't know how that solves the (deficit) problem."