Dan Gilbert, the Michigan resident who, if Issue 3 passes, would be allowed to own and operate Ohio casinos while Ohioans would be forbidden from doing the same, is trying to whitewash his past. Gilbert saw to it that an illegal bookie operation during his college days was expunged from his record. In a Plain Dealer story, he said what he did back then was “dumb,” but since then, he’s had that criminal record fixed. No harm done, right?
Jeff Jacobs, a would-be rival who covets an opportunity to own a casino of his own, was quoted by the PD saying:
“It’s one thing if your youthful indiscretion is a barroom brawl. It is another if you caused a college student to be so fearful that he goes to the police, who end up wearing an undercover wire just to shut your illegal bookmaking down.”
Sobering observation about Dan Gilbert’s past, don’t you think?
Left-of-center blog Plunderbund has heavily discounted the notion that any noticeable increase in crime will materialize if Issue 3 passes. If you click over to Eric’s blog entry on the matter, be sure to scroll down to the comments section, where I’ve pointed out that it’s a matter of historical record that the gambling industry and crime have a symbiotic relationship with each other. The opportunity to launder money via casinos greatly facilitates organized crime. Who first conceived of the notion of operating casinos in Las Vegas? A criminal.
Quite frankly, Issue 3 backers are already demonstrating that they can run circles around law enforcement efforts. So far, a solitary individual in Cincinnati, as a former employee of a company formerly contracted by Issue 3 backers, has been charged in an absentee voting fraud scheme. But while there may be closure on the horizon in that Hamilton County case, Franklin County still has to get a handle on absentee voting irregularities within its jurisdiction. And let’s not forget the dead voters who signed Issue 3 petitions, because Erie County, among others, has yet to get a handle on that, too. These are clear demonstrations Ohio’s communities just don’t have the means to police the casinos proposed by Issue 3, I don’t care what Ohio’s FOP says to the contrary.
The leaders of the Republican Caucus in the Ohio House of Representatives, state reps William Batchelder and Louis Blessing, Jr., on Friday, released the following statement to the press:
Background Checks Needed with Advent of Casinos
Issue 3 may open floodgates for criminals without proper regulations
COLUMBUS—House Republican Leader William G. Batchelder of Medina, today announced his commitment to safeguarding casino licenses and preventing individuals who have committed crimes in the past from obtaining a casino license, if Issue 3 is approved by voters this November.
“If Issue 3 passes, the General Assembly has an obligation to ensure that the Casino Control Commission carefully screens applicants who want to own and run the Ohio casinos and makes sure that licenses are not granted to anyone with serious gambling infractions in their past,’’ Batchelder said. “Many other states ask applicants about past gambling charges, even if they have been later expunged or overturned on appeal. This industry is highly regulated for a reason, and Ohio should not bow to pressure and adopt regulations that are lower than industry standards.’’
As per Section 3770.051 of the Ohio Revised Code, the director of the State Lottery Commission must request the criminal records of any vendor with whom the commission is considering entering into a contract, to protect the integrity of the state’s online gaming system or instant ticket system. Batchelder seeks to extend a variation of this law to apply to Ohio casinos, should the issue pass a public vote.
“It is prudent that policymakers work together to ensure there are safeguards in place such as background checks, so that anyone with a criminal record cannot apply for a license to operate casino in Ohio,” Batchelder said. “I can remember the Ohio Lottery suffering from scandal in the early 1970s caused by the lack of safeguards. Clearly defined rules and regulations on something as vague as gambling are necessary to prevent the dismal mistakes of the past. I urge my legislative colleagues to come together to proactively work and prevent the potential abuse that could come from Issue 3.”
Assistant Republican Leader Louis Blessing Jr. of Cincinnati, who is an opponent to Issue 3, stated the following: “A review of other state standards suggests that criminals would likely be denied a casino license in other states. The cavalier attitude that individuals with similar pasts, who apply for a license here in Ohio tells me they think previous mistakes are just college pranks. This is another reason why we need to know the identity of all of the investors. If the main financial backer can’t get a license, can their partners? We have no idea because he refuses to list the other investors.’’
Other states have similar laws that serve to uphold the integrity of the state casino system. According to Blessing’s research, Pennsylvania regulators ask casino applicants to list all ‘offenses or charges,’ even if the charges were later dismissed, or downgraded.
In Indiana, applicants are asked whether they have ever been ‘arrested, detained, charged, indicted, convicted, received pro-trial diversion, pleaded guilty or nolo contendere or forfeited bail concerns any criminal offense, either felony or misdemeanor…’ In Colorado, the first question regulators ask is, “Have you ever been convicted of any gambling-related felony at any time?’’
Batchelder and Blessing have seen the polls showing that voters are favoring Issue 3, and they want to be as ready as they can be if the issue passes, but, as they’ve pointed out in an earlier press release, this criminal background screening they propose might be a moot point, as passage of Issue 3 would etch the casino proposals in stone as an amendment to Ohio’s Constitution.
Even if you favor casinos in Ohio, there is another casino proposal on the table that wouldn’t write loopholes for criminals into Ohio’s Constitution the way Issue 3 does, but for that proposal to reach voters, Issue 3 must be defeated.
I of course, remain in opposition to casinos, as they produce no wealth, they only redistribute it by plundering it from gamblers. The numbers that Issue 3 backers throw at you, as the PD’s Thomas Suddes points out, are to dazzle you, but aren’t based in reality. Casinos do no good for our economy. Those that benefit, beyond the casino owners, are the criminals and the politicians. (Is that redundant to say casino owners, criminals, and politicians in the same sentence?)
Gambling tycoons don’t ever play games that aren’t fixed. The more closely you examine Issue 3, the more you will see that the fix is in. Career criminals are drooling in anticipation. Please frustrate them. Don’t sit this election out. Please get out to the polls and vote NO on Issue 3.