Voters in Ohio could change the state's constitution to put Youngstown on the list of casino locations, a state lawmaker is proposing.
State Rep. Robert Hagan wants wording inserted into a statewide measure that could be on the ballot - it would change the location of the voter-approved Columbus casino - expanding the number of sites and making Youngstown the fifth location for a casino in Ohio.
The measure being placed back on the state ballot would only happen if the company building the Columbus casino, Penn National Gaming Inc., decides to change sites. In the constitutional amendment Ohio voters approved in November, the site for the Columbus facility is in the downtown Arena District.
However, it's been reported that Penn National is studying other sites. State legislators would put the issue back on the ballot as an amendment if the decision is made to change the location.
''It's a great opportunity for the City of Youngstown,'' Hagan, D-Youngstown, said.
A message was left seeking comment from a Penn National spokesman.
Hagan said his proposal would open adding a Youngstown site to voters all over Ohio. And by piggybacking on the Columbus measure, it provides Youngstown protection from possible interference from other gambling interests that Hagan suggests could happen, if the Youngstown ballot measure stood alone.
''I want all the votes of the people that voted for it originally,'' Hagan said.
David Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman, a vocal opponent to the constitutional amendment leading up to November's election because, mostly, it blocked Trumbull and Mahoning counties from having a casino, said Hagan's idea is a political longshot but a genius idea.
If it happens, Betras said, it only authorizes a casino being built.
''You've got to give Bob major kudos on that,'' Betras said. ''It's pretty smart when you think about it. Can he pull it off? I don't know, but you have to give him credit for thinking of it.''