Sunday, November 07, 2010

Legalize expanded gaming

With the Breeders' Cup now over along with the elections, the state needs to get down to business.

The horse industry, in particular, is focusing their efforts on expanded gaming. As a native Kentuckian, who did move to Chicago and had to move back because of the economy, I would prefer that my revenue stay in state than go out of state. That's why I support the thoroughbred industry in the commonwealth. Sadly, David Williams doesn't.
But those in the horse industry said that despite Tuesday’s setbacks, they are still pushing for video lottery terminals at the state’s tracks and would possibly consider a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide the issue.[...]

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said Wednesday that if the Democratic-controlled House passed a constitutional amendment, the Republican Senate might consider it. However, there are still questions about what a constitutional amendment would say and how revenues from expanded gambling would be divided among the state, gambling interests and the horse industry.

“If they are interested in advancing gaming, that appears to be the only avenue left for them,” Williams said.

But Williams stopped short of saying a constitutional amendment would pass.

“I’ve heard that there might be some folks in the Senate that may be supportive of that,” Williams said. “Personally, I’m not.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, was not available for comment on Wednesday.[...]

Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Beshear, said that it was too early to say whether Beshear would push for a constitutional amendment.

“However, he remains committed to finding ways to assist our ailing horse industry and its 100,000 Kentucky jobs.”

Democrats may be hesitant to push for a constitutional amendment — which the public could not vote on until 2012 — because social issues tend to bring out more conservative voters. In 2004, an amendment to allow for same-sex marriage helped Republican candidates.

The issue of allowing slots at the tracks has been debated in the state’s legislature for more than two decades. But all efforts to get a change in law approved by the Senate have failed.
David Williams is the main person here that is stopping progress from happening.

Patrick Neely commented on the matter. He's heading up KEEP and keep in mind, he also ran the congressional campaigns for former Congresswoman Anne Northup.
Patrick Neely, of the Kentucky Equine Education Project or KEEP, would not say whether the trade group that has pushed for the expansion of gambling would change its position and support a constitutional amendment.

“We need to be able to compete,” Neely said. “We will go to Frankfort with the same message… Absent a change, this downward trend is only going to get worse.”

The horse industry says it needs expanded gambling at tracks that are losing races to neighboring states with purses beefed up by revenues from slots and other gambling.

Neely said Wednesday that although two horse industry candidates lost, the biggest change this election cycle was the number of candidates who support a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide the issue.

“Most candidates who were running for office for the first time supported the industry and supported putting expanded gambling on the ballot. This is a significant shift from four years ago,” Neely said.
It's time for the General Assembly to work together and move Kentucky forward.

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