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Gilbert sealed his own fate of online gambling in Ohio

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Posted June 12, 2013 by Terry Goodwin

Dan Gilbert is best known for being the outright owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. Gilbert made a national news when he dropped LeBron James off for the way the former Cavs star left Cleveland and headed to Miami.

It seems that Gilbert's aggressive nature could play against him in business. In 2009, Gilbert successfully pushed for an amendment to the state constitution that limited gambling to only four voter-approved venues: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus.

Today, this amendment is at the center of the online gambling debate in Ohio. With many states beginning to regulate online gambling, Gilbert sees himself as a beneficiary should Ohio decide to go this route. However, legal experts believe the 2009 Amendment could prevent Gilbert from accepting bets from anywhere in Ohio other than the four land-based casinos.

Rock Gaming, the gaming company of Gilbert and Penn National Gaming, owns the rights to four casinos. Rock owns the Cleveland and Cincinnati casinos, and Penn National runs the Toledo and Columbus casinos.

Whatever the outcome of the discussion of online gambling laws in the Ohio Legislature, a legal battle can blow. I. Nelson Rose, a recognized gaming expert and professor at the Whittier Law School in California, believes Ohio could use the same logic as in New Jersey to circumvent the law.

In New Jersey, lawmakers agreed to a regulation that has placed online casino servers in Atlantic City casinos. As a result, online gambling continued to take place in permitted areas of the state.

“This is not a guarantee that it will work (in Ohio). It worked in other states, ”Rose said. "I don't even know if there have been many lawsuits."

So far in 2013, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware adopted online gambling laws. Nevada has opened its first online casino in beta, and New Jersey and Delaware are expected to open their first online casinos by fall.

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