Governor Trying To Drum Up Support For Casino Bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear says he is working with Democratic leaders in the House to garner support for a beleaguered proposal that could allow casinos to open across Kentucky.
The measure, calling for a constitutional amendment that would
legalize up to nine casinos, is proving to be a tough sale in a Bible-Belt state where similar efforts have failed in the past.
Beshear and House Speaker Jody Richards acknowledged Thursday
that they don't yet have enough support to pass the measure through the Democratic-controlled House, where it needs 60 of 100 votes before it can be sent to the Senate for consideration.
"We're now going to be going out and working the House to try to line up the votes necessary to move this legislation along," Beshear said.
Democratic lawmakers revived the legislation on Wednesday by
voting it out of a House committee, the first step in the legislative process. The state's powerful horse industry had opposed the measure because it doesn't guarantee that any of the casinos would be tied to race tracks.
Beshear offered assurances on Thursday that enabling legislation, which would specify locations for casinos, would require that some go to race tracks to generate revenue for the horse industry.
"Any enabling legislation that we work on that does not give protections to the horse industry, I'm going to veto," he said.
Richards said he and other Democratic leaders have committed to
help Beshear get the measure through the House. Though it doesn't now have enough votes to pass, Richards said he believes enough
other lawmakers can be persuaded to win approval.
Beshear had made legalizing casinos a centerpiece of his election campaign last year. And since the legislative session began in early January, he has been pushing lawmakers to approve the proposal that would lift the constitutional ban on casinos. If lawmakers do as he wants, voters would have a chance to reject or ratify their action.
Taxes on casinos, if they were permitted to open, could generate as much as $600 million a year for government programs in the cash-strapped state, Beshear said. The state faces a projected budget shortfall of some $900 million over the next two years.
The governor unveiled his much-anticipated proposal earlier this month to change the constitution to allow 12 casinos to open across the state, seven of which could be built at horse tracks. Lawmakers overhauled Beshear's proposal, opting for the nine casinos, up to five of which could be at horse tracks.
"I think we all feel that the tracks need to have the opportunity to be involved in this casino process," Beshear said. "Obviously, it is partly to support them and to improve purses for them and to improve breeders incentives, all of the things that it takes to keep the horse industry here in Kentucky competitive with the rest of the country. It's our signature industry, and we've got to make sure that it stays our signature industry."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Casey Location: Williamsburg Ky on Mar 1, 2008 at 08:56 PM
    Debbie, I too live in Whitley County and we DON'T need casinos. Jane is right, and the only thing we will benefit from it is, well... nothing. Corbin has become wet and are already having problems. How can they handle casinos on top of that? Think about it.
  • by Lea Location: Annville, on Mar 1, 2008 at 07:19 PM
    My beleifs on the casino will do more harm to the people of kentucky, especially the children. The more and more people gamble the more they want to and at what ever cost it may take. That will lead to more stealing and robbing of people and items. They children will stave as to where one or both parents will take food out of their mouths. It's bad right now with the drugs and alcohol. Think about when the money runs our for the drugs and alcohol, the people will want to get rich quick with the gambling, when they loose all their many who will pay for the way those people live? We will with the things that alot of people will still. Now tell me where will the money from the casino go, I know that it won't go to helping the school children and the elderly? Just like the Kentucky Lottery was suppose to give a big percents to our schools, I'm still waiting to see it. Most parents put theirself in a hardshipping trying to purchase items that their children and others need. IT"S BAD
  • by kentucky needs help Location: nowhere on Mar 1, 2008 at 04:40 PM
    Man i would think i would worry about getting us jobs the way times are getting we do not need gaming now gas is only 4 dollars a gallon gov Basher Bashear same Ole Frankfort nothing has changed its a shame that the Peaple regardless of party will not stand up to these politicians they are all playing us for fools trust me.
  • by resident Location: ky on Mar 1, 2008 at 08:43 AM
    when i read these comments it's plain to see that the people of ky do not want this. i don't want this either. i live in hazard and it's becoming more clear why the democrats keep pushing for scott alexander to become a frankfort puppet, a puppet he is. he will do just as he is told by the gov. and lt gov. our lt gov is from hazard and this man shames me. is the gov scared of these casion owners who donated so much to his campain? is this why he is pushing so hard to pass this bill? what else does he have to gain from this bill passing? seems he has sold his state out.
  • by Catsfanagain Location: Winchester on Mar 1, 2008 at 05:04 AM
    JP, I do not know your situation in life. However, If you were a family man or religous person you would realize the following. You do not have to step a single foot inside a Casino to have it effect your life considerably. Did you know that after the lottery was brought in (and we were lied to about how it would fix our educational facilities and their problems) Kentucky had its largest tax increase to date? Do you not realize that once Casinos are here there will be young ladies walking the streets outside of them selling themselves for cash? Thefts in the area will rise since people who can not afford to lose their pay will have to find away to feed themselves and their families. What never stops to amaze me is that the ones in support of the Casinos are the ones who could care less what it will do the communities. I pray each of you in support will stop and actually think of all the negatives this will bring to our state. Find something better to spend your monies on.
  • by Diane Location: Mt. Sterling on Feb 29, 2008 at 01:26 PM
    You can look at statistics from many states in America and you can see for yourself that gambling does not bring in revenue to anyone but the gambling industry and the politicians they pay off to get gambling into an area. If the lottery was such a boon to Kentucky why did it have to merge with the national lottery to stay afloat?? Are our schools and government better because of the gambling we do have?? Can he give even one example of a state that has received the profits from gambling and prospered??? The answer is No! And one other thing, Why does the debt figures go up every time the Governor talks about it. last count is $900 million. What's with that??? He needs to get over himself and govern honestly for a change!!!
  • by jane Location: ky on Feb 29, 2008 at 12:29 PM
    Debbie, if you think Whitley County is going to get a lot of revenue from gambling, then my guess is that Whitley County is one of the counties with really low math scores. The casinos are going to get most of the money. We are going to get the dregs. If you can't follow the trail of underhanded dealing in the last few weeks and see that it will continue after casinos are legalized, you are only kidding yourself. Mr. Beshear, shame on you for running ads that played up the fact that your father was a minister and then bringing something like this into our state. Let me tell you, you can't ride your father's coat tails. I'm sure he'd tell you the same.
  • by Susan Location: Kentucky on Feb 29, 2008 at 07:48 AM
    I agree, "persuaded" here sounds more like "threatened." We do not want casinos in Kentucky, Mr. Beshear!
  • by JP Location: Lexington on Feb 29, 2008 at 07:22 AM
    I hope this does pass. If you don't like casinos, don't step foot in one. Simple. This reminds me of the time before Tennessee had a lottery and most of the residents would come to KY to buy tickets. As soon as TN passed the lottery we lost a LOT of revenue. If KY has casinos we will regain some of the revenue we're losing to Illinois and other nearby states that have casinos. Just my $.02.
  • by Sherry Location: Morehead on Feb 29, 2008 at 06:52 AM
    I agree with Kimberly; Beshear needs to quit focusing so much on gambling and more time on the problems affecting Kentucky, which includes health care. Seems to me all he cares about is helping a few special interest groups. In my view, it sounds like he is basically saying, "My way or the highway" to anywone who votes against the casino amendment. 3 questions to Debbie in Whitley County: 1. Are you willing to pay for people to go to gamblers anonymous when they can't stop gambling? 2. Are you willing to pay people's unpaid debts because they spent their whole paycheck in the casino? 3. Can you mend a family broken up because of gambling? I know how I would answer; how about you?
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