Kentucky Candidate Supports Gaming at Racetracks

Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear said Jan. 16 he supports a plan for casino gambling that could generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue to help fund education and road construction.

Casino gambling, complete with slot machines and table games, should be allowed at racetracks and freestanding locations, said Beshear, a former lieutenant governor. State lawmakers should pass a proposed constitutional amendment that would ultimately leave the issue with Kentucky voters, Beshear said.

“It is time that the people be allowed to vote on whether they want expanded gaming in our state and the resulting economic benefits that it will provide for each and every county in Kentucky,” Beshear said in prepared remarks.

The policy announcement by Beshear marked the first of his campaign. Beshear, who was flanked by his running mate, Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, said his future proposals would be funded through money brought in by casino gambling.

Last year, the Kentucky Equine Education Project proposed racetrack casino legislation, but it failed to win enough support in the General Assembly. KEEP officials have said there could be another push for racetrack gaming in 2007, when a regular-length legislative session is held.

Last year, part of the debate involved whether gaming should be only at tracks or at non-track locations.

In a statement released after Beshear’s announcement, KEEP executive director Patrick Neely said: “KEEP is encouraged to hear a gubernatorial candidate take up the issue of gaming. Our position has been, and remains, that gaming is necessary to generate the much-needed revenue our state needs for education, health care, and so many other services in addition to supporting our state’s signature industry.

“We agree that it is time and the people should be allowed to decide this issue for themselves with a constitutional amendment. We look forward to discussing this issue in the coming months with all candidates who see the benefits of allowing the people’s voice to be heard.”

Beshear is facing state Treasurer Jonathan Miller and Otis Hensley Jr. in the May primary. Candidates have until Jan. 30 to officially enter the race.