Gov. Ted Strickland's proposal to use slot machines to balance the state budget has been exposed as anything but a sure thing.
Strickland wants to allow video gambling at racetracks. He has said that would raise $933 million during the two-year budget cycle.
There is a catch - an ace in the hole for gambling interests - in legislation for the slots, however. It provides that if voters in November approve a separate plan for full-scale casinos in Ohio, money the slots operators are to pay for access to the racetracks could have to be refunded.
That would chop Strickland's $933 million in half, leaving the state back in the same troubled fiscal waters officials are trying to navigate now.
We repeatedly have warned through the years that gambling interests tend to do all they can to shortchange states where they are permitted to operate. This certainly appears to be a case in point again.
Voters should have the final say on expansion of gambling in Ohio. Approval by lawmakers of the Strickland plan for slot machines would make it more likely that voters would approve full-scale casinos in a few months - thus slashing state revenue from the slots.
Strickland's plan is a faulty one. Legislators should find ways to plug the budget gap without racetrack slots.