After weeks of waiting, Governor Steve Beshear and state Senator Damon Thayer have unveiled their constitutional amendment for expanded gambling. The amendment allows for up to seven casinos in Kentucky, but five must be at horse racing tracks. The two free-standing casinos cannot be within sixty miles of a track, regardless of whether that track has a casino.
The amendment will be sponsored by Thayer and co-sponsored by a host of other senators, including two other Republicans. If the measure passes the General Assembly, the following question would appear on this fall’s ballot:
“Are you in favor of authorizing the General Assembly to permit the establishment and operation of up to seven strictly regulated casinos, up to five of which would be at licensed horse racing tracks, with the Commonwealth’s revenue from them to be spent for job creation, education, human services, health care, veterans programs, local governments, public safety and support of the horse industry?”
“To me, this issue, this debate is not about whether gaming is good or bad for Kentucky,” says Thayer. “As the governor noted in his comments there can be good arguments on both sides of this issue. And I believe that issue should be plated out in a statewide constitutional amendment ballot issue this fall.”
Beshear maintains he has the support in the state Senate to pass the amendment.
“We’re confident for two reasons,” he says. “One, because we believe the General Assembly, although composed of diverse membership, will be able to look past differences to do what’s best for the Commonwealth. Just as Senator Thayer and I have been able to do.”
For his second reason, Beshear cited two recent polls that show voters want the issue on the ballot.
Thayer says he hopes to get the bill a hearing in committee next week.