Berman Making Headlines In Ohio
November 5, 2021

Lyle Berman is a name poker players know well.  The affable, multiple WSOP bracelet winner and Chairman of the Board/Chief Executive Officer of Lakes Entertainment, Inc., has been behind many of poker's most successful business ventures including the World Poker Tour, PokerTek automated poker tables and many casinos around the country like Michigan's Four Winds Casino and Northern California's Red Hawk.  However, despite Berman's obvious success in the gambling industry- and the leather industry before that- his may still have been a name that your average Ohioan was not all that familiar with, until now.

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio finally approved a long fought measure that will allow four new casinos to be built in the state- in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo.  The new casinos should bring with them increased tourism and much needed tax revenues but apparently, and surprisingly to some in the state, it may also bring Berman.

According to a recent article from the Associated Press- already picked up my numerous media outlets across the midwest- Berman's Lakes Entertainment made a deal less than a week before the casino vote passed in Ohio, which promised the company a 10% optional share in each of the four new casino's profits, in exchange for covering 10% of the costs involved in getting the pro-gambling vote passed- a campaign that apparently cost over $35 million.

News of the deal seems to concern some state citizens, particularly as the details of the deal were apparently not released till after the vote had gone through, and Penn Ventures- the company developing the Columbus and Toledo Casinos- denied Berman's involvement as recently as early October.  A denial which the company claims was truthful at the time, as Berman did not contact them and ask to get involved until the last week of the campaign. 

Both Penn Ventures and Rock Ohio Ventures- the company behind the Cleveland and Cincinnati Casino projects- say Lakes Entertainment, whether they choose to exercise their 10% stake or not, will not have an active role in the running of the casinos- which may be for the best as the companies apparently have a history of not getting along.

Last year, Berman sued Penn National during a campaign to bring a casino to southwest Ohio, claiming the company was making libelous statements about him, causing Penn National to file a countersuit, accusing Berman and his partners not only of libel but of deceptive trade practices and false advertising.  Both lawsuits have since been dismissed.

Story by Mark Anderson

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