Gambling on the Prowl

By Richard Nelson

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November 21, 2013

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As promised, movement is being made to introduce expanded gambling in Kentucky; and the movement is happening on multiple fronts.

According to Blue Grass Politics, Democratic House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark has pre-filed expanded gambling legislation for the 2014 legislative session.

One of his measures calls for a constitutional amendment to let Kentucky voters decide in November 2014 whether they want casino gambling in the state. The other bill outlines a plan to license and regulate casino gambling at five horse racetracks and three stand-alone casinos.

Clark’s proposal comes on the heels of an effort by a pro-casino group named “Kentucky Wins!” to push for a constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Kentucky. The Kentucky School Boards Association announced Wednesday that it backs “Kentucky Wins!”

The legislative approach is being backed by outside organizations in Kentucky that insist that gambling revenues are needed to foster economic development in Kentucky.

Ryan Alessi of CN2 reports that a new group, Kentucky Wins, is primed to see gambling in Kentucky.

"This is our last chance,” said Jonathan Blue, the Louisville businessman and co-founder of the nonprofit group Kentucky Wins that officially formed in September to publicly support efforts to legalize casinos.

Blue and co-chairman Ed Glasscock, chairman emeritus of Frost Brown & Todd, said the preferred approach is a constitutional amendment that would legalize casinos. That must pass both chambers of the General Assembly by a three-fifths vote and be ratified by voters in the next election. A companion bill — not a constitutional change — would handle details of governance, casino licensing and how the revenue would be divvied up.

Political observers: expect to see the very worst of the coordination of money and politics, in unprecedented levels in 2014, to bring gambling to Kentucky. All those in favor of such legislation stand to gain, if not directly, at least indirectly, from seeing the scourge of gambling take the monies of Kentucky citizens and funnel them to outside interests. 

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center