CLEVELAND (AP) — Ohio moved closer to the debut of casino gambling by issuing its first employee license Thursday to a security guard hired by the Cleveland casino opening in May.
Ohio Casino Control Commission member June Taylor and the commission's employee licensing manager, David Acosta, presented license No. 1 to Taneshia Pitts, 28, of Cleveland.
"This opportunity is important to me because it's historical for the state of Ohio, so being No. 1 is just one step closer for us opening the casino," Pitts said while showing off her employee badge.
She didn't have to go far for the new job with the casino's surveillance team: she had been working security down the street with the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team owned by Dan Gilbert, a casino partner.
The Cleveland casino opens during the week of May 14, Toledo's will open two weeks later and casinos in Cincinnati and Columbus will open next year.
The commission has approved more than 1,100 licenses and is investigating up to 500 other applicants.
Acosta said Pitts, like other casino applicants, underwent a series of criminal, financial and integrity background checks to uncover anything that might compromise security, like a criminal record or personal debt issue.
"In Ms. Pitts' case, she was an example, a very good example, of what a casino employee should be," Acosta said as construction workers put finishing touches on the casino's basement buffet restaurant area.
Applicants must be at least 21, have no felony convictions and must disclose financial judgments or liens, arrests, wage garnishments, foreclosures, loan defaults, delinquent child-support obligations and pending lawsuits.
Acosta said the commission was compiling figures on how many applicants failed the background checks and won't qualify for a state license to work in a casino. The commission staff has focused on getting qualified applicants licenses for the initial casino openings, he said.
Taylor said the commission was working hard to check casino applicants and move ahead with opening the casino on schedule. "We are really focused on that May 14 date," she said.