Saturday, May 22, 1999

First off-track-betting parlor could be open in Ohio by fall

The Associated Press

        SANDUSKY, Ohio — The state's first off-track betting parlor could open by fall.

        The Ohio Racing Commission on Thursday approved plans by Raceway Park of Toledo to operate a betting parlor in a converted restaurant in Sandusky.

        At off-track betting parlors, people wager on horse races televised from tracks around the country.

        The state law that allows the parlors was passed in 1994, but gambling opponents have campaigned against the operations, and previous efforts to establish off-track betting have failed.

        Stark County voters defeated a proposal Nov. 3 that would have allowed an off-track betting parlor in Canton. That parlor would have been operated by Northfield Park, a track between Cleveland and Akron.

        In Sandusky, gambling opponents failed to put an off-track betting referendum on the ballot last year.

        “We're 100 percent ready to roll,” Mike White, Raceway's general manager, told the Sandusky Register after Thursday's vote. He said he expects the betting parlor to be fully operational by September.

        He said Raceway plans to spend about $700,000 renovating the restau rant and part of an adjacent bowling alley.

        Tom Haley, of Sandusky, who led the petition drive against off-track betting, was disappointed. “I just hope the ones who voted for it can sleep really good at night when they cause someone's family to go without bread or milk,” he said.

        The racing commission in December turned down Raceway Park's proposal. The plan was approved after Raceway said it would limit minors' access to betting machines in the bowling alley and assured the commission the betting parlor would have more than enough security.


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