The Trumbull County commissioners made a wise decision to use casino revenue money on capital purchases rather than rolling it into the budget for operating expenses.
The sheriff's office will receive four 2013 Ford Police Interceptor cars. That accounts for $130,868 of the $182,668 the county received last month for its portion of the gross revenue tax paid by Ohio's casinos. Total deposits by the state made in July were $19.7 million.
Gamblers bet more than $417 million in the first full month the casinos were in business, while operators paid more than $371 million in winnings, or an 89 percent pay-out.
Ongoing, the money will be paid to the counties and the state's eight largest cities, Youngstown being one of them, every three months. School districts will receive payment twice a year, starting in January 2013.
For the first installment, Mahoning County and Youngstown received 103,557 apiece, and Columbiana County $93,898.
The amount each county receives is based on population. Also, if the most populated city in a county had a population of more than 80,000 in the 2000 Census, that city splits it.
The Hollywood Casino in Toledo opened May 29 and the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland opened May 14. The windfall for counties and big cities should increase sharply when the Hollywood Casino in Columbus and Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati open in the spring of 2013.
Counties and cities will certainly be tempted to use the casino money to plug budget shortfalls, especially in the wake of losing local government funds. But even though the revenue will increase when two more casinos open, the windfall would definitely decrease as the novelty wears off, which has already happened.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission reported that the Cleveland and Toledo casinos had revenue totaling about $43 million in July, down nearly 7 percent from $46 million in June. If commissioners aren't careful, the county could easily find itself dependent upon money that stops flowing.
That's why tackling capital projects, such as purchasing police cruisers, is the wise approach.