Democratic Kentucky Rep. Greg Stumbo was sworn in Jan. 7 as the state’s speaker of the House, giving some in the Thoroughbred industry hope that alternative gaming may soon exist in the Bluegrass State.
“He has always been aware of and interested in the Kentucky horse industry,” said Keeneland President Nick Nicholson. “He has been very open to ideas from the industry throughout his career.”
Stumbo, a former attorney general and longtime lawmaker, replaced Jody Richards as the speaker after a vote by the Democratic caucus Jan. 6. Richards held the position for a record 14 years.
“The House of Representatives will be different with Greg as speaker as opposed to Jody, I am sure,” said Nicholson. “It is going to be interesting to see. He comes in at tough times. There is no way to sugarcoat that.”
Stumbo is expected to file a bill in the near future which would allow video lottery terminals at existing racetracks in the state. According to industry estimates, alternative gaming could garner the state $700 million a year.
“We are very pleased that we have somebody who has taken a big interest in this issue and has a position of leadership,” said David Switzer, the executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. “It would bolster our purses in Kentucky, and it would help the breeders’ incentive program so we can compete on a level playing field with the other states that already have alternative gaming. We hope that the bill covers those points.”
In 2008, a push by Gov. Steve Beshear for casino gambling at tracks and non-track locations stalled in the General Assembly.