Plans announced to push for fifth Ohio casino to be built in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A group of investors is planning on asking Ohio voters to amend the state constitution to allow a fifth full-scale casino that would be located in the Youngstown area.

Mahoning Valley Development Group said they plan to submit to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office a constitutional amendment clearing the way for the Mahoning Valley to join Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo in having a casino with slots and table games.

Once the wording is approved they'd need to collect what they estimate to be around 350,000 signatures across the state in order to get it on this November's ballot.

The Mahoning Valley Development Group, led by Rick Lertzman and Brad Pressman, is behind the effort. 

"My partner and I have been part of successfully placing three past gaming issues on the Ohio ballot," said Lertzman in a news release. "We fully believe we will succeed, once again, on placing this issue on the Ohio ballot."

The announcement comes less than a week after the state cleared the way for Penn National Gaming to move their Beulah Park horse racing track from outside Columbus to the Youngstown area with the intention of adding video lottery terminals or VLTs.

Penn National agreed to pay the state an additional $75 million to allow the move. That's on top of the $50 million licensing fee for the right to install slots.

Lertzman said the Youngstown - Warren area "deserves the ability to compete with the four major casinos in Ohio and its competition in Western Pennsylvania. The Mahoning Valley certainly deserves a full scale casino to allow it to fully compete against the full scale casinos in nearby Western Pennsylvania," he said.

"A second tier, limited racino which allows only slot machines and horse racing severely limits the economic potential of the property," said Lertzman.

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