Rebuffed by leaders of the coalition representing fraternal and veterans’ organizations, the Ohio Lottery Commission has been trying an end-run, appealing to individual posts and lodges to accept its alternative to their electronic raffle machines. But as the commission, backed by the Kasich administration, pushes harder to install its next generation of lottery machines, more questions keep getting in the way.
Last week, attorneys for the Ohio Veterans and Fraternal Charitable Coalition raised serious doubts about whether the commission’s proposal would meet the requirements of the Ohio Constitution, which dictates that net lottery proceeds be used solely for public education. The commission has in mind taking just 15 percent of the proceeds, the rest divided between the posts and lodges and Intralot, the Greek gaming company that runs the lottery’s back-office operations.
Bill Seagraves, the president of the veterans’ and fraternal coalition, called that “money laundering.” Intralot, whose lobbyist, Robert Klaffky, is part of Gov. John Kasich’s inner circle, is proposing the company get initially a whopping three-fifths share of the 85 percent, in return for fronting the cost of 1,200 lottery machines.
In addition to the constitutional issue, Seagraves also has questioned what would be left for the charities supported by veterans’ posts and fraternal lodges. The lottery commission says it is working on ensuring “an adequate revenue stream,” but wants to move ahead next month.
The idea for putting the new lottery machines in posts and lodges came after Mike DeWine threatened to shut down electronic raffle machines. As with sweepstakes parlors, the state attorney general regards the machines as an illegal, unauthorized expansion of gambling.
While Seagraves’ group has succeeded in blocking DeWine, a Franklin County court last week issuing a temporary restraining order, the attorney general appears on solid ground, based on his success closing sweepstakes parlors. More, there is growing evidence Ohio has reached the saturation point for gambling. At the least, the commission’s plan needs much reworking.