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Ohio taxpayers need full access to gambling data

January 24, 2012
Salem News

Casino gambling is about to become big, big business in Ohio, under allegedly tight government control. But Buckeye State residents who want to keep an eye on gambling operators may find it difficult to obtain some information.

Last month critics of proposed regulations on the four planned casinos warned about exemptions to the state's open records laws.

"It is our belief that the public records restrictions in this bill add up to a recipe for potential disaster and embarrassment," warned Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association. If the original proposal is adopted, state residents will be able to obtain more information about people applying for barbers' licenses than about casino operators, Hetzel added.

Gambling interests say exemptions from the open records law are needed to safeguard personnel information about casino employees and their families. They insist they have no problem providing information to the state, but don't want the public to have access to it.

Casino officials and employees should have no greater protections than other people - teachers, for example - who are subjected to state oversight. And, as Hetzel pointed out, gambling is different. Casino employees deal with enormous amounts of cash. Their employers will be raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Legislators should ensure Ohioans have access to the same types of information about those involved in gambling as they do about others whose professions are regulated. Nothing less should be accepted.



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