Slot machines

Nothing like an impending apocalypse to let us know what’s truly important to our politicians. We commend Gov. Mike DeWine for his much-needed actions fighting the coronavirus, but he hasn’t forced the closure of the state’s casinos, which, as we all know, are a hotbed for seniors.

“I am surprised the state hasn’t closed casinos if the City of Columbus has closed the libraries,” says Eddie Hamilton, who’s running a Franklin County Democratic Party Central Committee seat this Tuesday in Ward 29, an area roughly from South High to Lockbourne, and along Rt. 104. “There are hundreds of people in a casino at any given time and they don’t clean the machines thoroughly.”

Freep tried to reach out to the Governor’s Office but did not hear back. However, the Governor’s Office on Thursday said they could enforce their ban on “public gatherings” of more than 100 people, and casinos are not exempt.

Friday morning we spoke to a representative at Hollywood Casino and they said at this time their casino is exempt from the 100 people ban, and thus their doors are open.

We also heard back from the corporate owners of Hollywood Casino, Penn National Gaming, the largest casino operator in North America. They told us they are increasing more “fresh air circulation, more restroom cleaning, increased cleaning of gaming devices and elevator buttons.”

These are the answers we expected from what Freep likes to call the Westside’s “Money Sucking Monster."

Casinos came to Columbus in 2012, and surprise, surprise, created a local epidemic of sorts regarding gambling addiction. Here’s a quote from two years ago given to us by Maryhaven’s gambling addiction expert Bruce Jones: “We are just now seeing the major consequences for having a casino in our community. We’ve been increasing the number of people we see every year since we started this six or seven years ago. We now have Gamblers Anonymous meetings every day of the week in Central Ohio.”

So, as seniors jump from one losing slot machine to the other (referred to as reverse “ATMS” by many), we doubt any stringent cleaning is going to help.

“The state will lose millions but they’d rather risk the health of the elderly and vulnerable to make a buck,” says Hamilton, who’s under the Rep Your Block flag, the progressive-minded, grassroots effort that’s giving the Franklin County Democrat machine a serious fight this Tuesday when both Democrats and Republicans look to each fill 152 committee seats.

Committee members can be described as party front liners. They register voters, do fundraising, and endorse candidates, ect. This year’s vote for Democrat central committee seats has an entirely different look and feel now that Rep Your Block has mobilized.

Out of the 152 Democrat seats up for grabs, 83 are being contested by Rep Your Block.

Hamilton says he decided to run because the Ohio Democratic party has been down for too long.

“The Dem party in Ohio is weak and the main reason why this state has been under Republican control for decades. We are now the biggest city in the state and the Ohio Dems need to lead the way,” says Hamilton, a paralegal.

The Franklin County Democratic Party (FCDP), which has had a stranglehold on City Council and the Mayor’s Office for two decades, has itself mobilized against Rep Your Block and obviously threatened. They launched the strategically confusing, astroturfing Franklin County Democrats United, which is far from the reality, considering the funds they are raising will only go to FCDP endorsed candidates.

Hamilton says he is running against a hand-picked FCDP candidate that “was picked like several others just to fill a chair to preserve (their) power.” The FCDP has sent out three different mailers to support his opponent, he says.

“I have spent $250 to get my own mailer out,” he says.

Certainly, Rep Your Block leadership would demand casinos to stop seniors from losing their shirts so they don’t lose something far, far more important.