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Beshear talks casinos at Lexington meeting

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear wasted no time pushing his plan for allowing casino gambling in Kentucky.

In a speech Friday at a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Beshear said the state is facing tough financial times ahead. Kentucky, which already allows other forms of gambling, could use the approximately $500 million a year in additional revenues that casinos could bring in, he said.

"I'm going to work very hard to try to convince the legislature to let the people finally make a choice on this issue," Beshear told an audience of about 150 lobbyists, legislators and business people. "Put it on the ballot with a constitutional amendment and let people vote on it next November."

Beshear, who took office this week, campaigned against former Gov. Ernie Fletcher on the issue. Beshear claims the state can take in up to $500 million per year in annual revenue by legalizing casino gambling.

Kentucky, which is home to the Kentucky Derby, already allows gambling in bingo halls and at thoroughbred race horse tracks throughout the state. Beshear, and other local proponents of legalized casino gambling, claim Kentuckians are already crossing borders to gamble millions of dollars in other states.

Currently, Kentucky is facing tight budget times ahead, Beshear, a Democrat, said. The revenue would not be realized in time for the next two-year budget cycle, but would be useful in the future, he said.


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