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Kentucky Gambling Bill Rethinks Language

21 February 2012 by Devon Chappell

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s effort to bring casino gambling to his state via a constitutional amendment received committee approval to move ahead with a full senate vote. The Senate Bill 151 had been revised since Beshear first introduced it and it seems that the changes in language have not satisfied all of the bill’s critics.

Of course no language changes would satisfy the number of religious organizations that are opposed to expanded gambling in Kentucky, but efforts to protect Kentucky’s famed horse racing industry have also been met with harsh criticism.

When it was first introduced, SB 151 had sought to protect the horse industry by guaranteeing that 5 of the 7 casino licenses the bill was allowing for would go to Kentucky horse tracks. This measure was particularly unpopular even amongst supporters of expanded gambling, and thus a revised version of 151 was offered up as a compromise. The new version no longer dictates that any of the 7 licenses will be awarded to horse tracks. And while that change seems to be appreciated by legislators not comfortable with using the state constitution to protect horse racing, a new provision in the bill has raised concerns with many of these same legislators.

The revised version now attempts to protect the horses by stipulating that no casino license can be awarded to any location within 60 miles of a Kentucky horse track. Of course, any of the 8 existing horse tracks can be awarded a license, – but if that doesn’t happen, Governor Beshear doesn’t want the tracks to have to compete with any nearby casinos. This of course creates the possibility that a city like Louisville could end up without a casino if its horse track isn’t awarded one of the 7 licenses. One might guess that this provision may be changed prior to the bill going before the full senate.

If SB 151 ultimately passes with the votes needed by the state legislator, it will go before the Kentucky voters in November.

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