Nine Out of 10 Kentuckians Want Chance to Vote on Gaming

More than nine in 10 Kentucky voters (92 %) believe they should be given an opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment allowing for casino gaming even if they are opposed to expanded gambling, according to the finding of a recent survey of 801 Kentucky voters conducted on behalf of KEEP˜the Kentucky Equine Education Project.

In addition, more than 65 % of respondents said they would definitely (27 %) or probably (39 %) vote yes for a constitutional amendment that would allow for full gaming casinos for racetracks only with dedicated revenue.

"The message is clear; voters want a chance to have input on the issue," said Jim Navolio, executive director for KEEP. "We looked at the largest number of people opposed to one of four scenarios to make sure that we had the most significant number and still, more than 90 %of them support allowing the people a vote on the issue. Clearly, it's time to let the people decide."

The poll, completed three days before Christmas, was conducted by Preston-Osborne, a marketing communications and research firm based in Lexington. Voters were selected at random with equal weights by Congressional District. The four scenarios used were: full gaming casinos; casinos at racetracks only; racetracks only with dedicated revenue; and not racetracks only with dedicated revenue. Results for each question were:

There has been a good deal of discussion recently in Kentucky about casino gaming to raise revenue for the state and to compete with neighboring states that already offer gaming. If the General Assembly asked Kentuckians to vote on the issue of whether to allow casino gaming in the state, would you vote :

Yes 58.2%

No 40.4%

Depends 1.4%

How would you vote if the constitutional amendment specifically limited casinos to horse racetracks where gaming already occurs? Would you vote:

Yes 46.2%

No 52.5%

Depends 0.9%

How would you vote if it specifically limited casinos to existing horse racetracks AND guaranteed that a portion of the revenue generated would go to public education, health care, local governments and the environment. If this were the constitutional amendment you were voting on, would you vote:

Yes 65.2%

No 32.9%

Depends 1.5%

Let's say the amendment allowed no more that 9 casinos throughout Kentucky, but didn't limit them to just being at racetracks. Some of the 9 might be at racetracks, while others would be elsewhere. If this were the amendment AND it also guaranteed that a portion of the revenue went to the things I mentioned earlier "education, health care, local governments and the environment" would you vote:

Yes 63.1%

No 35.2%

Depends 1.5%

"Our message is resonating throughout the state," said Navolio. "We see evidence that people understand that racetracks only‚ cuts down on the issue of proliferation, which is why it edges out expansion to include non-track locations. But the greater message is that dedicated revenue makes this a winnable issue in every corner of the state from the Second Congressional District where support is the lowest (57.2 %) to the Third District in Louisville where support is the highest (72.9%).

"Another thing that is clear is that people want a voice and a vote on the issue. We have argued that from day one. It's part of the eight-point rationale our board adopted back in September and that message is hitting home," said Navolio. "Yet some of the more vocal critics are going to great lengths to keep the issue off the ballot even calling it irresponsible leadership if legislators allowed it to be voted on. Based on these results, our message moving forward I 'What do they have to hide? Let the people decide.' "

The survey of 801 voters has a maximum margin of error of + 3.5 % points at the 95 % confidence level. A copy of results related to the casino gaming questions can be seen at