Alternative Gaming Gets Push in Kentucky

Legislators responsible for putting together Kentucky's budget said Wednesday lawmakers should consider alternative gaming at the state's racetracks for two reasons: to aid the equine industry and generate much-needed revenue for the state.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Rep. Harry Moberly, a Democrat, and Rep. Richie Sanders, a Republican, both said alternative gaming should be considered by the General Assembly in early 2002. Their comments were made during a conference on government financing in Frankfort.

Sanders' comments indicated the issue of video lottery terminals or slot machines at racetracks will come up for discussion sometime after the legislature convenes Jan. 8. "It's our duty to make sure there is an open debate on it, and certainly we'll hear from both sides."

The racing industry is said to be united behind a need for legislative assistance, but not all the details have been ironed out. In a change from previous years, there appears to be no serious opposition to alternative gaming from within Kentucky's racing industry, or at least it hasn't been vocalized.

Legislators in September told racing industry representatives they would consider any plan as long as there is unanimity. Sources from within the racing industry indicated lawmakers would have to inititate any legislation, and it appears headed in that direction given the comments by Moberly and Sanders.

Ben Chandler, the state's attorney general, earlier said a constitutional amendment would be required for the Kentucky Lottery to implement video lottery terminals or other gaming. Others disagree.

Legal opinions have varied in other states with racetracks that have alternative gaming. There are several possibilities: simple legislative approval, a constitutional amendment, or state and local referendums.