Can group challenge Ohio casino and video lottery laws? Ohio Supreme Court to decide

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments today about whether a group of people have standing to challenge Ohio's laws regarding casinos and gambling. According to Court News Ohio, a group of individuals, an Akron company and an anti-gambling organization joined together in 2012 to file a lawsuit challenging the 2009 and 2011 legislation that legalized casinos and video lottery terminals in the state of Ohio. The group includes recovering gambling addicts and their family members, parents of public school students, a public school teacher and an individual seeking to operate a casino. The group brought several arguments opposing these laws before the court. They argued, among other things, that the lottery terminals violate the Ohio Constitution because all funds collected are not going to education and the state does not exclusively run them. They also assert that the $250 million license fee to operate a casino and the limited number of casino owners violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The trial court found that the group did not have standing to challenge the legislation and the 10th District agreed. According to the Court News Ohio summary, the appellants are now arguing three issues before the Ohio Supreme Court:

  • Do parties who are adversely affected by unconstitutional gambling have standing to file suit alleging violations of the lottery and casino provisions in the Ohio Constitution?
  • Do parents of public school students and companies paying taxes that fund schools have standing to pursue a claim that lottery and casino tax proceeds have been unconstitutionally diverted from education funds?
  • When a case is dismissed, must the court allow an opportunity to amend the complaint?

Appellants argue that they have been injured by the laws and that allowing them to pursue their claims will remedy these injuries. The state argues that injuries are speculative, rather than concrete and that the parties haven't shown that the laws actually cause the injuries claimed. The state also asserts that the parties haven't shown any injuries that are separate from those the general public might suffer.

For more information about the case, including merit briefs, see the docket page, here.

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