Friday, March 28, 2003

Legal opinion on casino expected in 2-4 weeks



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - As early as two weeks from now, City Council could know whether it's legally possible for a riverboat casino to locate on the Great Miami River downtown.

Councilman Richard Holzberger, citing the huge financial benefits the riverboat casinos have given Lawrenceburg and Rising Sun, proposed exploring the possibility of riverboat gambling in Hamilton.

State law prohibits riverboat gambling, and Ohio Gov. Bob Taft opposes any expansion of gambling. But Holzberger believes that Hamilton's status as a charter city might exempt it from that law.

Council this week approved asking Hillary Miller, city law director, to investigate whether there's a loophole in the law for Hamilton to slip through and lure a riverboat casino to town.

"There's no sense in discussing anything until we know if we can do it," Holzberger said.

If Miller's report to council is positive, city staff will examine the potential advantages and drawbacks of casino gambling. Miller's report is expected in the next two to four weeks.

Some council members are skeptical that Hamilton can circumvent state law, but they agreed it's worth investigating.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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