At Inauguration, Kentucky Governor Puts Gambling on Agenda

By: - December 14, 2011 12:00 am

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear vowed in his second-term inauguration speech Tuesday (December 13) to put gambling at the center of his 2012 legislative agenda, calling for a constitutional amendment that would expand gaming in his state.

As reported by The Courier-Journal of Louisville , Beshear went beyond his long-standing support for expanded gambling by calling not for simple legislative action to accomplish that goal, but for a constitutional amendment that requires approval by three-fifths of each legislative chamber and ratification by the voters next November.

Beshear “believes an amendment is a better way to proceed on the issue than a bill that would simply change current law,” The Courier-Journal reports, because regular legislation is “more likely to face a major challenge in court.”

It is not clear whether Beshear, a Democrat, has the support in the legislature to ensure that expanded gambling will make it to the voters, and the proposal would have to pass the Republican-led state Senate, which is overseen by Senate President David Williams — the man Beshear defeated in this year’s race for governor.

Williams would not comment extensively on the gambling plan’s chances in his chamber next year, saying only that “it’s all in how (Beshear) words it,” according to The Courier-Journal . Beshear has supported a gambling expansion as a way to help Kentucky’s horse-racing industry.

As Stateline

noted earlier this week , Kentucky is not alone in looking at expanded gambling, even though experts warn that the market is reaching its saturation point. Massachusetts this year approved three new casinos and a slots facility, while Florida is debating whether to allow resort-style casinos, including a potentially huge one on the Miami waterfront. Other states are pushing for expanded online gaming, seeing it as the future of the industry and a potential source of new tax revenue.

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