County Treasurer Says Casino Could Generate Tax Money

CLEVELAND — It’s an issue that has all of northeast Ohio talking. Should casino gambling be legalized in the Buckeye state?

It’s the subject of a three-part “Special Assignment” by NewsChannel5’s Joe Pagonakis.

In part one, NewsChannel5 showS you how millions of dollars are leaving northeast Ohio for casinos up north.


Do you think there should be a Casino in northeast Ohio?




Casino goers board buses heading for Detroit starting at 6 a.m.

Lilian Welch and Cindy Uguccini, of North Royalton, are just two of thousands of northeast Ohio residents who travel to the Motor City every month looking for casino action.

This bus tour made its way to Detroit’s Greektown casino, where an estimated 15 percent of its business comes from Ohio residents who roll the dice and take their chances. Some are NewsChannel5 viewers who believe northeast Ohio is missing out on a revenue-generating jackpots by not giving the casino industry a spin in our area.

“We see the buses lining up to come to Michigan, so we should get a piece of that action,” Welch said.

“And a lot of people from out of state would come to us. Cleveland has a lot to offer and this would be one more thing,” Uguccini said.

Would casinos be a good idea for northeast Ohio? How much revenue would be generated?

For some answers, Pagonakis took a closer look at the Motor City and its three major casinos.

In the 2003-2004 fiscal year, they are expected to generate $298 million in taxes, $134 million in revenue for the state of Michigan, $163 million for the city of Detroit and $106 million for the school-aid fund. Plus, the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau said the casinos have sparked development opportunities.

“It has given us the courage to bid for the Super Bowl. We’re hosting the Super Bowl, and now we have a new baseball and football stadium,” said Michael O’Callaghan with the visitors’ bureau.

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis confirms a casino would help generate badly needed additional property taxes by increasing Cleveland property values that have shrunk by about 10 percent in the past 20 years.

“For the first time, I’m supporting this issue because it’s clear it’s the only way to fund a new convention center,” Rokakis said.

“It certainly can’t hurt us, it can only help us. It gives us new revenue we haven’t experienced in the past,” said Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.

So while millions of dollars in entertainment revenue rolls out of northeast Ohio on tour buses to Detroit and other states, Pagonakis says it’s clear the debate over casinos coming to Ohio is far from over.

Coming up in part two, Pagonakis examines the potential drawbacks of bringing casino gambling to the NewsChannel5 viewing area and why some say it’s not worth the cost.

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