After a stalemate that lasted for months, Penn National Gaming, the City of Columbus, and Franklin County have tentatively agreed to a deal that will end their squabble and allow construction of a west side casino to proceed.
Under the deal, Columbus will kick in $15 million in environmental clean-up and road improvement costs and Penn National will agree to have the casino site annexed into Columbus, which will then benefit from tax revenues and “host city” revenues generated by the casino. Both parties will pay $2.5 million toward development projects in the west side, and an as-yet-unidentified party is supposed to kick in $11 million to buy the Arena District site where Penn National originally was going to build the casino. The deadline for getting all of the pieces of the deal inked is June 10, and if that deadline is met Penn National thinks the casino can be completed and open in 2012.
I voted against the constitutional amendment authorizing casinos in Columbus and elsewhere in Ohio because I don’t think Columbus needs a casino. My side lost, and it became inevitable that a casino would be built. Since the vote, and the later decision to move the casino to a location in the city’s depressed west side, workers in the construction industry and west side businesses and residents have been looking forward to the jobs that casino construction and operations will provide. For their sake, I’m glad that a deal has been struck.