Kentucky Lawmakers Propose Casino Expansion Option

Kentucky Lawmakers Propose Casino Expansion OptionOutside of the state lottery and parimutuel betting at racetracks, all other forms of gambling are banned in Kentucky. However, faced with a budget shortfall of more than $33 billion that is needed to pay its retired public employees, the Bluegrass State has desperately been exploring new ways to make up for the alarming deficit, with two State House Democrats now promoting the idea of a casino expansion as a partial solution to its budgetary woes.
At the start of this week, Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) and Rick Rand (D-Bedford) subsequently filed a constitutional amendment to permit the building of casinos in Kentucky, which once established would generate a one-off fee of $325 million, and annual tax revenue for the state of around $236 million. As the two Democratic politicians commented in a joint statement:
“Casinos are already located along all of Kentucky’s borders and those states are reaping the benefits of additional tax revenues. Kentucky’s lottery gambling is highly successful and by expanding existing gaming venues to allow for casino-type games, we will grow a new revenue source to help us catch up on the pension shortfall.”
According to the new bill, four casinos should be located in Kentucky, as well as a further six venues situated at the state’s horse tracks, with the industry then overseen by the Kentucky Lottery Corporation. In addition, a gaming tax of 31% would be levied upon operators, while casino visitors would also have to pay $3 each time they entered a casino. Before any progress can be made on the matter, however, any new casinos would have to first be approved by their potential host communities via a local referendum.
Despite their high hopes, Keene and Rand are likely to encounter fierce resistance gaining support for their expansion plan in a state that has traditionally been anti-gambling on moral grounds, and earlier this year even rejected a bill that sought to regulate daily fantasy sports in Kentucky. As State Governor Matt Bevin asserted at the time “[it’s not] going to happen while I’m governor.”
Nevertheless, Keene and Rand have asserted that their casino expansion proposal was a more viable option that an already proposed plan to cut back on the benefits of more than 100,000 retirees, with Rand. stating: “It’s time to put the gaming issue on the ballot so the public can have their say on this issue.”

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