CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Betting in bars on state lottery-operated keno machines is a popular idea in SW Ohio, which is often considered the most conservative section of the state. The Cincinnati-Dayton area turns out to be the only chunk of Ohio that supports Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland's plan to expand legalized gambling. His goal: Raise about $73 million a year in new money for the state budget.
A survey late last month by Quinnipiac University -- which regularly polls Ohioans -- showed 56% of SW Ohioans support keno machines in bars versus 40% opposed. In NE Ohio, 50% were opposed versus 42% who favored Strickland's plan. That 42% was the lowest support recorded in Ohio. There is some irony in that, too -- NE Ohio (Cleveland-Akron-Youngstown-Lorain) is the state's most Democratic region, but it doesn't appear to back Ohio's Democratic governor on the gambling issue. Cincinnati and Dayton are near riverboat casinos that are operating on the Ohio River in Indiana, and residents probably have gotten used to the notion of legalized gambling. The casino commercials regular features on radio, TV and billboards. You can see the poll results about gambling by clicking here and going to the last page.
Keno by the numbers:
Statewide -- 44% support; 49% oppose.
Central Ohio -- 43% support; 48% oppose.
Northeast -- 42% support; 50% oppose.
Northwest -- 44% support; 51% oppose.
Southeast -- 46% support; 48% oppose.
Southwest -- 56% support; 40% oppose.
West Central -- 43% support; 53% oppose.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services still has 2003 testimony posted on the state Web site that says gambling is a serious problem for up to 550,000 Ohioans -- which is before keno gets into bars. Here's what legislators were told on Dec. 3, 2003:
"Let's look at what we know from the Ohio Council on Problem Gambling:
- Based on estimates of national prevalence data, 2 1/2 to 5 percent of the adult and teen population of Oho has a gambling problem -- approximately 275,000 to 550,000 people.
- The National Opinion Research Center at University of Chicago puts problem and pathological gambling at 2.7 percent with another 7.7 percent of the population at-risk for developing a problem.
- According to treatment providers, problem/pathological gambling has one of the highest rates of suicide among addictive behaviors -- 48-79 percent of people who seek treatment report having had suicidal thoughts; 12-26 percent actually attempt suicide.
- Average gambling debts of people in treatment are between $38,000 and $113,000.
- 60 percent of problem gamblers are estimated to commit illegal acts to feed their addictions."