Kentucky casino supporters are increasingly silent

casino 1Courier Journal – Support for a constitutional amendment on casino gambling appears to be waning, even among those who are for it. Champions of casino gambling aren’t saying much, although the issue is unlikely to disappear completely from debate without being put on the ballot. The reasons are varied:

• More racetracks are embracing the slot-like Instant Racing game as an alternative to casinos. The Kentucky Equine Education Project, once the leader of the horse industry’s pro-casino effort, spending about $1.4 million during the 2006 legislative session alone, says it is focused on other issues — though it remains pro-casino under circumstances that favor the horse industry. Politicians say the disagreements within the horse industry are a bigger impediment than politics.

• Political issues remain, such as a $100,000 contribution by Churchill Downs Inc. to a political action committee whose goal is to elect conservatives in legislative races this fall. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has said his previously announced plans to make a casino amendment House Bill 1 are now in question.

• The casino market is showing signs of saturation as casinos in New Jersey close, and others in Indiana and Ohio compete for players.

“The oversaturation of casino gambling throughout the country combined with reluctance (of) numerous segments in the horse industry to embrace gaming combine to make its chances less likely and less urgent,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. He sponsored one of Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s efforts in 2012 to get a casino amendment on the ballot.

Thayer said he doesn’t know what it would take for the issue to get momentum in the future. “It seems that many parts of the horse industry have stabilized, particularly on the breeding and sales side.”


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