Judge: Multistate Lottery Does Not Violate Ohio Constitution

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state's decision to join a multistate lottery game does not violate the Ohio Constitution, a judge ruled Monday.

Lawmakers "did not unconstitutionally" give the Ohio Lottery Commission authority to conduct a multistate lottery when they passed a bill authorizing Ohio to join the lottery, Judge Daniel Hogan of Franklin County Common Pleas Court said in a 41-page ruling.

Hogan also said that the bill, passed in December to help balance Ohio's budget, did not illegally transfer authority to run such a lottery to other states.

Nothing in the constitution says that lawmakers can't authorize a state agency "to conduct a lottery that happens to be of a sort that cannot exist except for the cooperation or contractual agreement of other parties," Hogan said.

Church groups and anti-gambling activists have sued the state over the decision to join the multistate game. The lawsuit argues that the Ohio Constitution permits only a lottery run exclusively by Ohio with no involvement by other states.

Gov. Bob Taft and state lawmakers approved Ohio's participation in a multistate game to help patch a $1.5 billion deficit. The state hopes to raise about $41 million a year from multistate lottery sales.

Lottery opponents, who say state lotteries make money off the poor, argue that adding a multistate game makes a bad situation worse. Supporters say the new game is needed to make Ohio's lottery profits more stable and keep ticket sales in state.

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