The Senate Committee on State and Local Government voted yesterday 7-4 advanced the gambling bill to the full Senate. David Williams is pushing for a full vote today, while Republican co-sponsor of the bill Damon Thayer is pushing for a delay since two Democratic Senators aren’t going to be there today to vote
(According to CJ’s liveblog, at least one of those missing Senators appears to have made it to town but is holding the Fair board vote up against his Casino vote in a game of brinkmanship.)
The bill approved by the committee dropped a key protection for horse racetracks and Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he will propose more changes that could sour racetracks on the legislation.
As amended Wednesday, the bill no longer guarantees that five of the seven casinos will be located at racetracks.
Also, Thayer said he will offer floor amendments to eliminate a provision that prohibits free-standing casinos from locating within 60-miles of racetracks and to alter language that says the General Assembly “shall” create gambling regulations if voters approve the constitutional amendment. Instead, the bill would say lawmakers “may” create regulations that allow casino gambling.
Beshear and Republican Commissioner of Agriculture Jamie Comer testified in favor of the revised bill during a two-hour hearing, saying it would adequately protect the horse industry.
Alice Forgy Kerr, of Lexington, voted against the bill because she was concerned that 18 year olds who have for years gone to Keeneland to bet on horses would still be able to go to Keeneland and bet on horses. She went on to accuse the Governor of wanting to bus 18 year olds to the casino track… which is really stupid since the 18 year olds who tend to go to Keeneland are Duck Heads and Seersuckers, so they’re probably gonna take that leftover 4-Runner not get on a city bus.
But who ever accused Alice Forgy Kerr of understanding Lexington?
There are fiscal arguments as well, but the most powerful argument is that the signature industry and former number one farm crop for our state deserves a fair chance to compete with other states. The revenue arguments support passing the amendment as well. Even if the gaming “only” brings in a few hundred million a year to the state, to a commonwealth that is undergoing amputation of state government functions, such money is desperately needed. And the unholy alliance of Kentucky Senate President and Indiana casino gambler David Williams and his out of state allies who seek to protect their markets are laughing their heads off, knowing that any negatives associated with gaming are already occurring as Kentuckians drive out of state to gamble, and knowing that Kentuckians are being tricked into paying for Indiana’s racing program, Indiana’s schools, roads, and state government.
Please call senators today, and please let them know how very much this matters to Kentuckians. To say it is important is an understatement. A lot of good Kentucky farms are already gone. Do something to protect those that remain. Call 1-800-372-7181.
Our support for expanded gambling of any kind stems from our belief that Thoroughbred racing, a signature Kentucky industry, needs it to remain competitive with its counterparts in states where purses and breeding incentives are supplemented by revenue from expanded gambling.
Although not specifically stated in the proposed amendment, the buffer zone has the practical effect of assuring some of the seven casinos authorized by the measure will be located at and operated by racetracks, thereby helping them to achieve parity with other “racino” states. Remove the buffer zone, and there is no guarantee any casinos will be located at racetracks or even provide any benefit to the racing industry.
Without such a guaranteed benefit to a signature industry, Kentucky doesn’t need to add to the gambling options it already has.
- Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown
- Dan Schickel, R-Union
- Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon
- R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester
- Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg
- Walter Blevins, D-Morehead
- Gerald Neal, D-Louisville
Lexington Senator Alice Forgy Kerry voted against the amendment.
Will the horse industry make her pay?
- Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington
- Dan Seum, R-Louisville
- Tom Jensen, R-London
- Robert Stivers, R-Manchester