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Anti-gambling group representing school parents asserts its standing to challenge Ohio slots

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Parents of public school students and recovering gambling addicts are both affected by Gov. John Kasich's decision to legalize slots-like video lottery terminals and use some proceeds for non-educational purposes, and so should be granted legal standing to sue, according to an anti-gambling group's brief to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The conservative Ohio Roundtable said in its Friday filing that both public-school parents and gambling addicts have the "beneficial interest" in seeing Ohio's laws followed.

The lawsuit alleges that Kasich's decision to allow video lottery terminals at the state's seven horse tracks and to share proceeds with casino operators running the facilities violated the Ohio Constitution because slots aren't a constitutional form of gambling and lottery proceeds in Ohio must go to education.

The Roundtable's suit contends Kasich improperly expanded the Ohio Lottery by allowing video lottery terminals without putting the question to voters. Attorneys for the state say the governor was within his rights.

The group also argues a recovering gambling addict who sits on its board, Rob Walgate, is among Ohioans with a legitimate legal interest in the impact of video lottery terminals because he and his family are personally affected by expanded gambling opportunities in the state.

"One of the negative effects is the increased temptation presented by unconstitutional gambling to those who are vulnerable to gambling addiction," according to the brief.

Justices agreed last year to decide the standing issue in the Roundtable's case. That was after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower court's ruling in March 2013, saying the Ohio Roundtable lacked legal standing in the case and couldn't proceed.

The high court postponed proceedings until a similar standing issue could be decided involving Kasich's privatized job-creation office, JobsOhio. The administration has since won that case.

In 2009, Ohio voters approved casino gambling at four sites in the state with backers promising new jobs and opponents warning about more gambling addicts. Casinos moved forward in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati.

An agreement Kasich signed after the vote allowed a gambling company building two of the casinos to move its two horse racing tracks to other locations to avoid competition between tracks and casinos. Under the deal, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based Penn National agreed to pay the state $150 million in relocation fees.

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