In the past decade, Cleveland’s cut of the money that casinos make when gamblers lose has added up to about $117 million. Most of it is spent on general city services. City Council also gets a portion, and it is divided evenly between the 17 city wards. In 2022, each council member got about $116,000 to spend in the wards they are elected to represent.
When council members want to spend this money, most of the time they have to pass a piece of legislation. The process of getting the money approved, however, can take months – if not years – which has frustrated neighborhood groups and nonprofits.
Council has passed about more than 140 pieces of legislation (and some that are repeats) since 2020. Most of the projects are never discussed in a public meeting.
Cleveland Documenters interviewed more than 30 Cleveland residents across 13 wards to find out what they knew–and what they wanted to know–about casino revenue spending.
Most–78%–had never heard of casino revenue funds. Many residents did not know that local governments got any money from the casinos. (It’s part of a deal that was hashed out when Ohio voters approved casino gambling in 2009.)
Documenters also learned:
- None of the residents, who ranged in age from 21 to 88, knew how city officials were spending the money.
- Not one resident could recall being asked by a city official or council member how they might prioritize spending the casino money in their wards.
What did residents want to know about casino revenue spending?
Cleveland Documenters who contributed to this special assignment include: Angie Pohlman, Brandy Smith, Marvetta Rutherford, Dan McLaughlin, Preeya Shankar, Robyne Williams, Alfreda Williams, Mildred Seward, Angela Thomas, Adrienne Hall, Giorgiana Lascu and Kellie Morris.