12:13pm

Fri February 15, 2013
All Politics are Local

House Leaders Consider Instant Racing Legalization to Help Pay for Pensions

Kentucky House leaders are considering legalizing Instant Racing across Kentucky to help plug the funding gap in the state's pensions. Instant Racing is a slots-like game currently played at two Kentucky tracks, Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs. The legality of the game is also currently being litigated at the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Greg Stumbo
Greg Stumbo
Credit Kentucky Legislative Commission

But if the General Assembly passes a bill authorizing it, the court case would be moot.

The Democratic caucus is considering the Instant Racing option as one of many to fully fund state pensions going forward, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said.

Stumbo said the revenues from statewide Instant Racing could be useful.

"I think reasonably say, that that's probably $25- to $30 million at least that the state might be able to use to pay on the pension fund," he said.

State Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, a Prestonsburg Democrat, filed a bill Friday in the Senate to legalize Instant Racing as well.

But because the issue is being litigated, Senate President Robert Stivers say he doesn't favor that option.

"We have been pretty consistent over here in my 16, 17 years, that while things are in litigation the legislature shouldn't involve itself because you don't know what the courts are gonna rule," he said.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, who tried to legalize Instant Racing in 2010, said he agrees with Stivers on not using Instant Racing as a revenue measure this session.

House leaders are also considering increasing the cigarette tax to $1  for revenues to pay for pensions as well.