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Regulate or close poker clubs in Ohio

July 21, 2011
Salem News

Privately operated poker clubs and video gambling machines have been irritants to many Ohioans for some time now. But soon, they will become more - competition for state-sponsored gambling. That ought to convince state legislators to do something about the scofflaws.

Through the state lottery, four planned casinos and seven racetracks where video gambling is to be permitted, one might think Buckeye State residents would have plenty of opportunites to flush their hard-earned dollars away. But no, private poker clubs and backroom gambling machines are located throughout the state.

Their operators insist they are in compliance with state law. In some cases, that may be true - technically. But the venues offer gambling that clearly is in violation of the spirit of state laws intended to keep the practice under supervision and control of the government.

And as long as the small poker and slot parlors operate, they will siphon money away from state-sanctioned gambling.

Frankly, the American ideal of a free marketplace seems in some ways to dictate that small operators not be shut out of legalized gambling. But rest assured, if Ohio follows the lead of West Virginia and other states in legalizing thousands of video slots at hundreds of locations, there will be an outcry among some in the public.

Something needs to be done to either eliminate or legalize and control the poker parlors and privately operated slots, however. That is an issue lawmakers should address.



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