Kentucky: Beshear Not Giving Up

Despite a prevailing opinion that expanded gaming in Kentucky is dead for the legislative session, Governor Steve Beshear (l.) is not giving up the fight.

Despite reports of the demise of expanded gambling in Kentucky for this year, Governor Steve Beshear says legislation to legalize casinos in the state is still alive.

Two weeks ago, with bills in the state Senate and House to create a constitutional amendment legalizing casinos apparently going nowhere—the same with a companion bill in the House that would create both racetrack and stand-alone casinos—Senate Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, sponsor of the chamber’s casino bills, declared legislative efforts to expand gambling as being “at the funeral home.”

However, last week, Beshear, who campaigned for expanded gambling prior to both of his gubernatorial victories, told the Louisville Courier-Journal, “I think it’s premature to say that it is dead at this point. I think it is a work that is in progress.”    “Expanded gambling is not dead in Kentucky,” said Louisville businessman and casino advocate Ed Glasscock in an interview on local ESPN 680 radio. “We’re going to push extremely hard, 24-7, to make sure this happens, because it’s critical for our children and future generations to have the revenue to support these needs that we have.”

Legislation has stalled in both chambers of the legislature, with leaders on both sides saying they are waiting for the other chamber to initiate hearings.

Beshear urged leaders of both chambers to meet and decide on the language for a referendum to create a constitutional amendment, and on a plan for enabling legislation to create a compromise on the number and nature of casinos to be created. “Then, it’s immaterial which chamber votes first,” Beshear said in a statement. “We will continue to work with both houses to see if that possibility can be made a reality.”

Clark, meanwhile, is pinning hopes for success of the gaming initiative to the support of racetrack owners. He scheduled meetings with five Kentucky racetrack owners for last week, calling the effort “D-Day for me” in the gaming 3expansion effort. “(The bill) is at the funeral home, but we haven’t pronounced it dead yet,” he told Louisville radio station WAVE. “Next Wednesday, we’ll make the decision if the 9industry wants to move forward, or we can go ahead and call for the pall bearers.”

As of press time, there was no word on the outcome of Clark’s meeting with racetrack owners.