Gaming in Kentucky
Former Governor Paul Patton introduced the possibility of casino-style gambling in the Commonwealth of Kentucky on Tuesday April 27, 1999. Over the past thirteen years there has been a firestorm of controversy surrounding the costs and benefits – both economic and social – of such an initiative. Gambling, in Kentucky, has evolved largely as a partisan issue with Republican lawmakers leading the opposition. Current Governor Steve Beshear is continuing the fight for casino-style gambling in Kentucky in some form. Governor Beshear has been pressing for casino-style gambling in Kentucky since he was elected in 2007, but, so far, has been unable to get lawmakers to pass legislation. The closest he came was in 2009, whan a divided House approved a bill that would have allowed horse tracks to brin in slot machines. However, the Senate refused to go along and the bill died. Governor Beshear now believes that a bill that does not restrict gaming to race tracks is the best solution. He believes a bill with no restrictions is the fairest and the only way to get it through the house.
Proponents of gaming mainly speak to the economic benefits it will provide. They believe that gaming has the potential to create revenues of up to $1.7 billion for the state. Thousands of jobs will be created and help support a struggling horse racing industry. Slot machines at Kentucky tracks could protect the state’s $4 billion-per-year horse industry and estimated 100,000 horse related jobs by allowing Kentucky to compete with other state that have more attractive racing and breeding incentives, such as larger purses. Purses in New York and Pennsylvania are expected to be much larger than Kentucky’s in 2013 due to expanded gaming. Kentucky’s Horse Industry is a strong supporter of expanded gaming as long as there are some protective measures that help race tracks, such as only allowing expanded gaming at current tracks. Gaming can create revenue without...
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