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Poker Champ Berman Stakes Claim In Ohio Casinos

"At the time this was raised as a campaign issue, which was Oct. 6, Berman had no role in any of this," Tenenbaum said. "He never became involved in the campaign, but he did reach out to both Penn National and Rock Ohio Ventures in the last week of the campaign and asked if he could become involved."

He declined to say why the information about the relationship was held from voters until the day after the election. A message seeking comment from Berman was not immediately returned.

Penn National spokesman Eric Schippers said Ohio Jobs & Growth was truthful when it said Berman played no role in this year's casino issue ¿ and he will play no active role now.

"To be clear, there is no seat at the table," Schippers said. "They have no role in how the facilities will be built, constructed or operated."

Jennifer Kulczycki, a spokeswoman for Gilbert's business, said a handful of campaign advisers will be given the chance to invest in the casinos now that they've been approved. She said Berman was not one of those advisers.

Berman has been chairman and CEO of Lakes Entertainment since 1998. The company was formed as a spinoff to Grand Casinos Inc., which Berman co-founded as a competitor to casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Among his other business interests have been PokerTek Inc. and Rainforest Cafe. He is also a multiple winner of the World Series of Poker.
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