FRANKFORT, KY -- With the new speaker of the House pushing electronic slots at racetracks as his top priority, it seems a safe bet a gambling bill will get a vote on the House floor in this session of the General Assembly, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.
Kentucky has three legal forms of gambling: the state-run lottery, charitable gaming such as bingo operated by churches and school booster groups, and parimutuel betting on horse racing. For more than a decade, racetracks, the horse industry and various others have pushed for either slots or casino gambling, but the issue has never gotten beyond a committee vote.
Now, says newly elected Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, the state and the horse industry need money more than ever and the best way to save both is with video lottery terminals.
Stumbo estimates slots at up to eight racetrack locations could within five years generate $349 million in tax revenue annually for the state and twice that for the horse industry, which is desperate for the money to compete with other states.
Even with Kentucky's bleak economic outlook prompting renewed interest in gambling, Stumbo's bill faces challenges.
A vote by the House Licensing and Occupation's committee is likely in the next two weeks, and House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said Stumbo might have the momentum to get his bill out of the House.
But then it would be likely to hit a brick wall that even the most ardent supporters of gambling have yet to breach: Sen. President David Williams.
The Burkesville Republican has said repeatedly that he won't back any move to expand gambling, so even if the slots bill could muster the votes to pass that chamber, the legislation would be unlikely to get out of committee, let alone get a vote on the Senate floor, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.
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