Anne M. Eberhardt

Second Kentucky Gaming Bill Introduced

Senate Bill 2 would require statewide voter approval to expand gaming.

A bill requiring a constitutional amendment for expanded gambling in Kentucky has been introduced in the state General Assembly by Republican Senate President David Williams.

Williams, who has consistently opposed previous legislation that would permit video lottery terminals only at racetracks, has previously stated he believes voters should be allowed to determine whether gambling is to be expanded in the Bluegrass State.

Senate Bill 2, introduced by Williams Jan. 11, would amend the state Constitution to read: “There shall be no expansion of gambling without the General Assembly first enacting a constitutional amendment that is subsequently ratified by the people of the Commonwealth.”

Under the bill, voters would be asked to consider the following ballot question: “Should the Kentucky Constitution be amended to require a constitutional amendment before gambling is expanded beyond what was in existence in Kentucky on Jan. 1, 2009?”

The legislation defines “expansion of gambling” as allowing any entity to “engage in any type of game or scheme, whether on paper, mechanical, or electronic device, where the winner or winners are selected predominantly by chance that was not lawfully being played in Kentucky on Jan. 1, 2009.”

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has previously issued an opinion stating he does not believe a constitutional amendment is necessary to permit VLTs.

The bill filed by Williams is the second piece of gaming legislation introduced in the General Assembly. Fellow Republican Sen. Damon Thayer has filed a bill that calls for a constitutional amendment to allow VLTs in the seven counties that have racetracks. The VLTs would not be restricted to the racetracks and approval by voters in a local option would also be required, in addition to the statewide vote, under Thayer’s bill.

Thayer’s bill could get its first public airing during a meeting of the Senate State and Local Government Committee Jan. 13. Thayer is chairman of the committee. Williams' bill was sent to the same committee.