PROPOSALS TO EXPAND KENTUCKY GAMBLING MET WITH LITTLE ENTHUSIASM FROM LEGISLATURE OR INDUSTRY

By: Cara Houlehan, Staff Member

The Kentucky legislature is considering several proposals concerning the addition of slots at racetracks. Janet Patton, Beshear Slots Plan Gets Tepid Reception, Lexington Herald-Leader, Jan. 21, 2010, available at http://www.kentucky.com/
/horse_racing/story/
1104634.html. Governor Steve Beshear's bill would place electronic slot machines at racetracks in accordance with Kentucky's present lottery statutes. Id. Beshear says his proposal would generate $295 million in tax revenue within its first 18 months. Id. Keeneland spokesman Jay Blanton said of the plan, "We appreciate the governor's strong and continued support for the state's signature industry, which is facing significant competitive challenges." Id. However, a recent House democratic caucus revealed little enthusiasm for the bill; it was described as "delusional" by
State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian. Id.


House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who asserted that there is "no sentiment" for Beshear's proposal, is pushing his own competing plan. Id. Stumbo claims that his proposal would generate $400-$500 million in revenue within two years, which would then be spent on a school construction project in an effort to boost Kentucky's budget by creating jobs. Id.


While both bills suppose that gambling can be expanded under current lottery laws, a third plan, approved Jan. 20 by a Senate committee, demands an amendment to Kentucky's constitution to allow gambling to be expanded. Id. As a proponent of this approach, Senate President David Williams is skeptical that bills like Beshear's, operating under present lottery statutes, could pass in either the House or the Senate. Id.


Ultimately, though, Williams' proposal has not quelled the concerns of the horse industry. Id. Blanton remarked, "…our concern about a proposed amendment remains the same: our challenges require immediate relief; any proposed amendment that we've seen thus far would, at least, take years to afford any assistance to the industry. That hasn't changed." Id.