Beshear Says His Victory Shows Voters Want To Decide Casino Issue

Associated Press Writer

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov.-elect Steve Beshear said Wednesday that his lopsided victory was a clear signal that Kentuckians want to decide the fate of casino gambling.

"Whether they are for it or against it, the overwhelming majority of people do want to vote on it," Beshear told reporters a few hours after Democrats celebrated his election. "I hope that was a very clear message that folks will notice."

Now the job of winning over lawmakers begins for the next governor.

Beshear defeated Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher on Tuesday after a campaign that provided a clear difference between the candidates on on whether casino gambling should be legalized.

Beshear started reaching out Wednesday to legislators who will decide the fate of a number of his initiatives, from casino gambling to education to health care. The governor-elect met in the afternoon with top House and Senate leaders and pledged to work with both parties to improve the quality of life in Kentucky.

He said he plans to talk with lawmakers about casino gambling. "I'm sure those conversations are going to go on over the next few weeks and months," he said.

Beshear supports amending Kentucky's constitution to allow a limited number of casinos at racetracks and at off-track sites along the state's borders. He estimates the extra gambling would generate about $500 million in additional tax revenue for such priorities as health care and education.

Even though amending the constitution to allow casinos would require a referendum on a future ballot, Fletcher campaigned on a "no casinos" theme, warning they would drain money from businesses and would lead to such social ills as more divorce, bankruptcies and crime.

Proposals to put the casino gambling issue on the ballot have been floated in previous years in the General Assembly but have died after making little or no headway.

State Rep. Larry Clark, a casino gambling proponent, said Beshear's margin of victory "gives him more strength trying to push that legislation through."

Beshear won with 59 percent of the vote.

Clark, a Louisville Democrat and a top House leader, pledged to "do everything I can" to help get a casino gambling measure on next year's ballot.

Clark said he's tired of seeing Kentuckians flocking across the border to gamble in neighboring states like Indiana and Illinois. "It's just transferring wealth from one state to the other," he said.

Sen. David Boswell, D-Owensboro, said he would introduce a proposed casino gambling constitutional amendment in the legislative session that convenes in January.

Boswell said he'll sponsor a companion proposal setting the number of casinos and how tax money would be spent if a gambling amendment won voter approval. His proposal calls for a total of nine casinos - five at racetracks and four off-track. The measure would funnel state gambling tax revenue to education, veterans programs and infrastructure projects like water and sewer lines.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Cheryl Location: Nicholasville on Nov 8, 2007 at 01:25 PM
    Casinos will be the death of this state. By the way, does anybody besides me think Steve Beshear favors Mr. Burns on the Simpsons?
  • by Diane on Nov 8, 2007 at 11:20 AM
    I really don't know what to say. I am so disappointed that so many people believe gambling is going to cure Kentucky's problems. Those who believe that deserve this Governor. Unfortunately the rest of us will have to live with the consequences. And Pay for them too.
  • by Jerry Location: KY on Nov 8, 2007 at 04:44 AM
    NO, you (edited) it simply means they got tired of Fletcher and wanted to give someone else a try. My question is this; if the people vote NO on casinos, will you drop the issue all together?? My guess is no because you really want it in KY. Kind of funny how he is pushing this issue now. Like I said, a wolf in sheep's clothing.
  • by Bobby Location: Argyle Ky on Nov 7, 2007 at 04:14 PM
    Grand-pa was a Preacher, Dad was a Preacher, and you go to the same Church every Sunday You say you want to bring Intergity, & trust, and family values and you say what you stand for will do that why not bring all of these before the Church Sunday morning and ask the Church to pray that you can get all this done. maybe Ted Kennedy will help you, he is on the same page as you are.
  • by amc Location: lexington on Nov 7, 2007 at 04:11 PM
  • by Shane Location: Lexington on Nov 7, 2007 at 03:48 PM
    It's too early to be sponsoring bills to decide where they will be or where the money will go. Don't put the cart before the horse, legislature. Just pass a bill that will put the referendum on the ballot for next November, then wait to see the results before getting in too far. But one thing's for sure, almost ALL Kentuckians want to at least vote on the referendum. We're tired of the David Williams' of the world trying to tell us what we can and can't have and telling us that we don't even have the right to vote on it. And we're also tired of the other side (aka horse industry) who probably have already ordered slot machines for their racetracks. WE THE PEOPLE, just want to do what our forefathers envisioned us doing, and that is have a vote in the things that affect us. We need to be more like Western States which put all significant initiatives on the ballot to be voted on. That way if something bad happens, it's the PEOPLE'S fault, not legislators doing back-door politics.
  • by Glen Location: Lexington on Nov 7, 2007 at 02:17 PM
    I can assure that the issue of the casinos are not why he won, I feel that people are expecting him to straighten out 4 years of corruption and to run the governor's office like it should be run, in sted of making a media circus. Personally I supported Fletcher on the "No Casino" policy, but it seems as if this Fletcher campaign was run only on this platform. In my opinion and he never once accepted responsibility for any of the merit hiring or any other issues at hand.


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