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The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the state's plan to allow up to 17,500 video lottery terminals at horse racing tracks is subject to a statewide voter referendum.

The 6-1 ruling by the high court puts a potential dent in Ohio's plan to raise $933 million over two years. The money from the terminals was a key component in addressing a $3.2 billion shortfall in the state's new two-year budget for the fiscal biennium that began July 1 without raising taxes.

"While I am disappointed by this decision, we need to fully review the court's judgment before determining next steps," Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said in a statement.

"The Ohio Lottery Commission has modified its agenda for this afternoon's scheduled meeting, which was to include the video lottery terminal implementation rules, to ensure adequate time to fully review and understand the impact of the court's decision," he added.

The lawsuit was filed by LetOhioVote.org, a ballot issue committee, which argued that the state constitution requires voter approval of the gambling plan.

Two other lawsuits were subsequently filed in the Ohio Supreme Court, challenging actions taken by the governor and legislature earlier this year regarding the video lottery terminals.

In its ruling, the court rejected the state's position that the terminals were essentially part of the appropriation process with their revenue allocated to education and therefore not subject to any referendum. Justices also ordered Ohio's secretary of state to allow the plaintiff to pursue a referendum on the terminals.


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