Beshear, Legislative Leaders Not Betting on Expanded Gaming in 2015

Oct 9, 2014

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will likely leave office next year without making good on one of his campaign pledges. 

Legislative leaders say casino gambling is hardly on anyone’s radar for the 2015 session.  Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio support appears to be waning even among proponents.

"You've got your tracks that only want it at the tracks.  Some will go further than that, others won't, so they can't agree with each other, much less than anybody else.  It's one of those issues that while a lot of people say they want it, they only want it on their terms."

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer sponsored a measure in 2012 to get a casino amendment on the ballot.  The Georgetown Republican maintains he won't try again.

"I will not be sponsoring another expanded casino gambling bill as long as I'm in the state Senate," states Thayer.  "I sponsored that bill a few years ago and said I would take one shot at it, and I have no plans to sponsor another bill like that in the future."

The House remains the only chamber to pass a casino bill, but it’s prospects next year appear dim.  House Speaker Greg Stumbo is miffed at Churchill Downs for contributing to a political action committee whose goal is to elect conservatives in legislative races next month. 

Besides political, there are other reasons an expansion of gambling is losing steam.  The casino market is showing signs of saturation and more racetracks are turning to Instant Racing as an alternative to casinos.

"I still think we're missing the boat," added Beshear.  "We've got millions of dollars flowing across our borders into states from our people who go and enjoy that entertainment.  It's just a shame we're not keeping that money at home."