Citizen who wants to open a casino has standing to challenge Ohio casino gambling laws, rules Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a man challenging the constitutionality of Ohio's casino gambling laws on the grounds that they constitute a monopoly has standing to bring those claims. The plaintiff, Frederick Kinsey, had argued that the constitutional amendments and laws allowing casino gambling violate the Equal Protection Clause because they only allow certain groups to have control, and thus prevent him from opening such a facility. Kinsey was one of many individuals and groups who had jointly sought to have several of Ohio's gambling laws declared unconstitutional on various grounds. These included plaintiffs who claimed standing as taxpayers, parents of public school children and a recovering gambling addict, among others.

The trial court found that none of the plaintiffs had standing to bring their claims and dismissed them, and the 10th District affirmed. The Ohio Supreme Court held that all of the other plaintiffs aside from Kinsey lacked standing to bring the claims. Justice French, writing for the court, laid out the test to determine standing, which requires a plaintiff to show that "he has suffered '(1) an injury that is (2) fairly traceable to the defendant’s allegedly unlawful conduct, and (3) likely to be redressed by the requested relief.'" The Court emphasized that this must involve "a direct, personal stake in the outcome," and not just "ideological opposition."

The court found that the other plaintiffs failed to show this because they could not show direct, concrete harm that was specific to them. According to the court, however, Kinsey could demonstrate standing because he alleged that he would engage in casino gambling if the laws didn't prevent it. The amendments and laws served as a barrier that prohibited him from doing this, but permitted others. The court reasoned that even though Kinsey sought to have those laws declared unconstitutional, which would still prevent him from operating a casino, this would fix the problem of unequal treatment, since no one else would be permitted to operate a casino either. Justice French emphasized that the court was not ruling on Kinsey's ability to succeed on the merits of his claims later, but only that he had standing to bring them. The court affirmed the dismissal of all claims except for Kinsey's, which it sent back to the trial court for further proceedings.

Justice French wrote the lead opinion for the court. Justice Kennedy concurred. Justice Pfeifer concurred in part and dissented in part, and wrote an opinion that Justice O'Neill joined. Justice Lanzinger concurred in part and dissented in part and wrote an opinion that Chief Justice O'Connor and sitting Justice DeGenaro joined.

For more information about this case, see this article from Court News Ohio and this from the Columbus Dispatch.

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