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Beulah Park installs slot-like machines

November 12, 2009

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The Beulah Park Thoroughbred racetrack in Ohio last Thursday, two days after voters in the state passed Issue 3, which allows four casinos to be built in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo, installed 30 Sweepstakes machines which are similar to slot machines, which are currently prohibited. Players on the machines purchase pre-paid phone-Internet cards and then swipe them in a reader attached to a computer in a slot-like machine, which has games such as Lucky Diamonds, Scorchin' Sevens and Slots & Stripes.
All winnings are credited to the cards, with payouts capped at $400. Beulah Park owner Charles Ruma told the Columbus Dispatch that, "You're playing, basically, for almost pennies. It's almost like a penny slot machine, if you have to equate it to something, but it's not a slot machine at all. They're just computers."
The question of the legality of the machines has not been addressed by state officials, including the attorney general who only told the Dispatch he had no comment. A spokesperson for Gov. Ted Strickland, who earlier this signed an Executive Order allowed video lottery terminals at the state's seven tracks but has since been put on hold after the state Supreme Court ruled that the order could not be done as part of the budget, said the governor had not looked at the Sweepstakes machines in any detail as of yet.
Although the passage of Issue 3 approves the free-standing casinos, it is not expected that any of the four sites would open before 2012. The Supreme Court also stated opponents of VLTS at the tracks had the right to put the question on the ballot, giving a group until Dec. 18 to gather the needed 421,000 signatures. Strickland earlier said he would consider asking the state's Lottery Commission to install and operate the slots.
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