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Kentucky Gov. Want to Untie Casinos and Racetracks

Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday he may perhaps propose a casino amendment that doesn’t guarantee licenses or income to racetracks – saying it is the only method to get it by means of the legislature.

But 1st, Beshear stated he must speak using the horse business “to see regardless of whether they’re able to get their act collectively to help some variety of approach like this.”

Beshear’s comments, in interviews with the Courier-Journal relating to this year’s 30-day legislative session, are the initial indication that he is contemplating pushing by means of a gambling amendment that the horse market has already mentioned it can’t accept.

Horse industry members, such as racetrack officials and breeders, have been the largest proponents of expanded gambling, arguing that Kentucky racetracks will need casinos to safeguard the state’s signature horse market by using gambling revenues to increase racing purses and breeders incentives.

Beshear stated he will supply a proposal if he has the votes – a three-fifths majority of each chambers – to pass an amendment in the legislature and put it to a statewide vote. But he mentioned without the horse industry’s assistance that would be “very difficult … so, you realize inside the end, I think they’re going to possess to come to a decision simply how much they definitely desire to attempt to obtain expanded gaming in the state.”

Without guarantees – ideally inside the state constitution – of casino licenses or revenues, horse business representatives worry that in-state casinos would additional erode the gambling small business they’ve lost to casinos in neighboring states.

But Beshear stated Thursday that the horse sector could have to reside with out any protections to get an amendment by means of the legislature, rather becoming content material with his pledge to shield the market when enabling legislation is written once an amendment is authorized.

“It has become pretty clear, I consider, from our previous encounter that possessing a bunch of qualifying language looking to give the horse sector protection inside a constitutional amendment is not going to fly,” Beshear mentioned. “There’s not enough assistance for that.”

Policy analyst Martin Cothran in the Household Foundation of Kentucky, which opposes expanded gambling, said the work to expand gambling “has been an ill-fated venture, and we feel they must just quit wasting the state’s time with this concern.”

“We’ve got pension reform, and we’ve got tax reform that have to be dealt with,” Cothran mentioned. “It would be a waste of the legislature’s time to take this up at this point, after they can’t even agree among themselves.”

Beshear has not committed to proposing a constitutional amendment this year, saying an amendment also could possibly be approved by the legislature next year, since the earliest that it may be put just before voters for ratification is November 2014.

The 30-day session begins Tuesday, with legislators focusing mostly during the initial four days on electing leadership ahead of returning in February to think about legislation. The 2014 session will be 60 days.

“It’s nevertheless an open question as to what if something we can do in this session,” Beshear said.

Beshear, a Democrat, plus the horse sector have worked together on many expanded-gambling proposals considering the fact that he took workplace in 2007, all of which failed against vocal opposition from former Senate President David Williams, a Burkesville Republican.

Last year, the Senate voted 21-16 against an work to amend the Kentucky Constitution by enabling casinos practically exclusively at racetracks.

Expanded gambling supporters have hoped their probabilities of achievement could be far better this year after Beshear appointed Williams to a judgeship. In addition they were encouraged by Senate Republicans choosing Damon Thayer, a Georgetown Republican who sponsored Beshear’s most current failed amendment proposal, to be majority floor leader.

Both Thayer and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, have recommended lately that something that limits casinos to racetracks will be nearly impossible to pass. A portion in the horse sector was pushing for other protections – dedicating casino revenues to the horse sector – as a fallback.

Thayer said he hasn’t focused on the casino problem, but “I know that there are lots of, which include the governor, who would like that to become acted on in 2013. But I do not believe the urgency is there simply because, frankly, there’s yet another session in 2014 where it may be dealt with.”

Stumbo stated he does not “know why the Home would would like to take it up,” offered the Senate’s previous inability to pass casino legislation and Thayer’s recent comments.

Patrick Neely, executive director with the Kentucky Equine Education Project pro-casino horse sector coalition, said a constitutional provision would assure that casino income is not redirected in the horse sector.

“We would prefer legislation that guarantees that future governors and legislators do not have the opportunity to adjust the funding structure towards the detriment of Kentucky’s horse sector,” he said.

But Beshear said legislators won’t agree to that.

“What I’m operating into so far is usually a wish to get a clean constitutional amendment that doesn’t guarantee anybody something,” he said.

Keeneland Chief Operating Officer Vince Gabbert had previously indicated the Lexington track and thoroughbred sales enterprise would oppose “any amendment that did not deliver some business protections.”

He echoed that Thursday, saying that “we remain committed towards the concept that any expanded gaming really should contain a limited amount of licenses, of which the racetracks need to be the crucial participants.”

Brett Hale, Churchill Downs Inc.’s senior vice president for corporate and government relations, mentioned the Louisville-based casino and racetrack operator has supported Beshear’s expanded-gambling efforts and is “confident that the final proposal will supply sufficient protections to ensure that we do not trade a $4 billion horse sector to get a $2 billion casino business.”

 
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