After a Kentucky constitutional amendment calling for nine casino licenses passed out of committee Feb. 27, it was unclear whether the horse industry would continue to support the legislation. But indications lawmakers and Gov. Steve Beshear would look out for the industry led the Kentucky Equine Education Project to support the bill.
KEEP, which pushed for casino legislation in 2006, originally wanted the amendment to specify racetracks and mandate how the state would spend its percentage of adjusted gross gaming revenue. Instead, the bill now makes no mention of racetracks or dedicated revenue for state programs.
The KEEP board of directors, which convened the evening of Feb. 28, has now come to an agreement regarding the amendment, which could advance to the full 100-member House as early as the week of March 2.
"We are satisfied that a significant majority of the entire membership of the General Assembly and the governor support the Kentucky horse industry and want to protect and enhance it in any legislation related to casinos," the organization said in a prepared statement released Feb. 28. "We have not yet seen that sentiment manifested in a constitutional amendment bill.
"It takes both houses of the General Assembly to pass any bill, and this bill has only been before one of them up to this point. Because of the strong statements of support for our industry, we are willing to see this bill move forward.
"We will work with legislative supporters of our industry to produce a final piece of legislation, and ultimately acceptable to both houses, that protects Kentucky’s signature industry, and produces badly-needed revenue for our schools, our health and human service programs, and our local governments."
The constitutional amendment, if passed, would go on the November ballot. However, there would be detailed enabling legislation that would spell out many parameters on casinos; the horse racing and breeding industry most likely would be protected in that bill.