Beshear Hasn't Given Up on Casinos

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear hasn’t yet relinquished his proposal to legalize casinos.

Gov. Steve Beshear hasn’t yet relinquished his proposal to legalize casinos in Kentucky.

With about 20 House lawmakers standing around him at a March 24 press conference, Beshear declared the casino proposal still is in play, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.

Beshear called the proposal an “uphill battle” for which he’s willing to continue fighting, even though there are only eight working days remaining in the legislative session.

A constitutional amendment calling for nine casino licenses passed out of committee in February, but has failed to move further.

Beshear last month unveiled the legislation, which was significantly revised before passing out of committee. The governor said the casino facilities could provide more than $600 million in tax revenue once they are up and running.

Some horse industry supporters think an expanded gaming bill that does not guarantee a number of casinos to be located at racetracks (like the one that passed out of committee) further threatens the industry, however, as it creates additional competition from free standing facilities.

If lawmakers to approve a constitutional amendment, Kentucky voters would get to ratify or reject the amendment in a ballot referendum.

Dave Adkisson, head of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, urged lawmakers to approve the casino proposal March 24. He said Kentucky residents already are spending more than $1 billion a year at casinos in neighboring states.

Anti-gambling groups such as Say No To Casinos, however, said the proposal still doesn't have enough support in the House or Senate to pass.