Court rules against anti-gambling group

Dayton’s prospects for a $200 million racino cleared another hurdle Thursday after an Ohio Appellate Court upheld a Franklin County judge’s decision to throw out a lawsuit challenging the legal framework for operating slot machines in Ohio.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Timothy Horton, in May, ruled that the conservative anti-gambling Ohio Roundtable organization did not have legal standing to bring the suit.

Ohio Roundtable, in the appeal, argued the court erred in its findings and that its president, Robert Walgate Jr., a recovering gambling addict, did have legal standing greater than the general public because of the harm his addiction caused his family.

Rountable also contended the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint without allowing them an opportunity to file a second amended complaint with additional facts.

Appellate Judges George G. Tyack John A. Connor overruled on both assignments of error.

“The Ohio Appellate Court has sent a clear message to Governor Kasich, the Ohio Legislature and the gambling industry. They may do whatever they please regardless of the Ohio Constitution,” Walgate said. “The message is equally clear to the voters of Ohio. Regardless of how you vote to amend the Constitution, the governor and legislature can ignore the law and cut whatever back room deals they please.”

Ohio Roundtable, which has fought gambling proposals in Ohio since 1988, filed the lawsuit in October 2011 contending the Ohio Lottery Commission’s operation of video lottery terminals at horse racing tracks violates the Ohio Constitution and Ohio law. The suit was filed just one day after Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order authorizing the State Racing Commission to pass emergency rules advancing both slot machines at horse racing tracks and relocation of racetracks to other parts of Ohio.

Penn National Inc., the gaming company proposing to transfer its Toledo racetrack to Dayton, added themselves to the complaint so they could take part in the legal argument. Bob Tenenbaum, spokesman for Penn, said the company was pleased with the ruling. Next week, Penn’s application to transfer Raceway Park to Dayton will be considered by the Ohio State Racing Commission.