Pony Up: Gov. Beshear Predicts Video Slot Machines May Be Legalized at Kentucky Racetracks in 2010

The following post was written by staff member Donald Smith.

Kentucky has, in various forms, debated the legalization of gambling, particularly in the form of video slot machines at racetracks, for more than a decade. Beth Musgrave & Janet Patton, Beshear Wants Slots Bill by Winter, Lexington Herald-Leader, Nov. 5, 2009, available at http://www.kentucky.com/181/story/1006050.html?storylink=omni_popular (last visited Nov. 17, 2009). After Ohio residents passed a referendum on November 3, 2009, allowing casino gambling in four major cities, including Cincinnati, the efforts to legalize gambling gained momentum. Id. Governor Beshear issued the following statement after the referendum passed: "Clearly, the time to act on expanded gaming is now.… Ohio citizens are going to reap the benefits of thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue. Ohio's decision reinforces the urgency to pass the video lottery terminal bill I proposed earlier this year." Id.

In addition to questionable popular support, the proponents of legalizing gambling have faced the criticism that the move can only legally be made through amendment of the state constitution, an argument that Governor Beshear labels as a stall tactic that cannot be tolerated as the Kentucky horseracing industry faces tough times. Id. Although last term a bill passed the democrat-controlled House, but did not get out of committee in the Senate, Governor Beshear now predicts that the bill would pass both houses in 2010, after changes in membership. Ryan Alessi, Beshear: Slots Will Pass the Full Senate if Given a Chance, Bluegrass Politics, http:// bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com/2009/11/17/beshear-slots-will-pass-the-full-senate-if-given-a-chance/ (last visited Nov. 17, 2009). Speaking of the impact on the horse industry, which would receive a cut of profits under the proposed bill, Governor Beshear stated: "In my opinion we must protect this industry. Why? Not because there are two to three rich guys in it. But because there are 100,000 hard working Kentuckians who work in that industry every day." Id. Only time will tell whether the bill will in fact pass the legislature, and if so, only the courts will tell if the bill passes constitutional muster.