Kentucky Lawmaker Won't Take Lead on Gaming

Should the Kentucky horse racing industry push for casino gambling during the 2006 General Assembly session, it apparently won't have the support of Democratic Rep. Larry Clark.

Clark, the House Speaker Pro Tem, had sent a letter to lawmakers urging support for casino gambling legislation next year but told the Kentucky Post he has no plans to introduce the bill. "I have fought this battle for two years," Clark told the paper. "They can get another jockey."

In 2004, the racing industry entered the legislative session with a proposal for casino gambling at tracks, but some lawmakers wanted non-track sites included in the bill. Legislation to that effect was introduced but went nowhere. Clark complained the horse racing industry failed to present a united front and called it greedy.

Lawmakers in Northern Kentucky, where Turfway Park is located, told the Post they were surprise Clark changed his mind. "He's the one who sent the letter out," Democratic Rep. Jon Draud told the newspaper. "He notified members that he is thinking about introducing a bill, and he wants casinos and racetracks to get behind it."

The horse industry hopes to present a united front next year through the Kentucky Equine Education Project, a multi-breed grassroots organization. Officials have said it's imperative all members of KEEP are on the same page before any proposal is floated.

KEEP still hasn't taken an official position on expanded gambling at tracks or other locations. In previous years, the racetracks have led the push for alternative gaming, first only video gaming machines and then full-scale casino gambling.