Kentucky Expanded Gambling Amendment (2012)

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The Kentucky Expanded Gambling Amendment did not make the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Kentucky. The measure would have made expanded gambling legal. Specifically, it would have allowed casinos at five racetracks and two other sites in the state.[1]

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear introduced the measure during Kentucky 2012 state legislative session on February 14, 2012.[2]

A bill was pre-filed during September 2011 by State Representative Mike Nemes, however, the bill being considered was Gov. Beshear's.

Support

The following is information obtained from the supporting side of the measure:[3]

  • A coalition of groups formed to support the measure. According to reports, the group was called The Kentucky Alliance for Jobs, a 501(c)4 entity made up of 31 organizations across the state. Included among the groups was the Kentucky Education Association.[4]
  • Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear was a sponsor of one version of the measure.
    • Beshear stated that allowing gambling in Kentucky would help generate revenue for the state. Otherwise, Beshear said at the time, that money is going to other states bordering Kentucky, where people go to gamble. Beshear commented, "We might as well be backing trucks filled with cash up to the Ohio River and dumping that money into the water...[Allowing gambling is] a mechanism that will keep significant money in our state that we're now sending elsewhere, money we can use to protect and invest in our priorities, like education, job creation, and, yes, our horse industry. So tonight, I reiterate, it's time to let Kentuckians decide the future of gaming in our state."[5]
  • State Senator Damon Thayer commented on his efforts to work with Beshear on the proposal: "Governor Beshear and I have the same goal: to get this issue on the ballot in November 2012 and to preserve and protect Kentucky's racing and breeding industry. We pledged to work together in a good-faith effort to get this passed."[6]

Opposition

The following is information obtained from the opposing side of the measure:

  • The Family Foundation, based in Lexington, Kentucky, was an opponent of expanded gambling. It warned "of more political shenanigans."
  • According to Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation: "Every time the gambling industry lures politicians into pushing its agenda, the political process is distorted. The high-priced lobbyists are being hired right now, and soon we'll see a legislator or two who is opposed to expanded gambling surreptitiously disappear from the committees that will deal with the issue."[3]
  • State Senate President David Williams was against the measure. In a response to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear accusing him of intimidating lawmakers who were in favor of gambling, Williams stated: "I've got a message for the governor: 'Governor, no one likes a poor winner,' and that's what he turned out to be a poor winner. He wants to continue to try to have some conflict with me over any issue that we don't agree on ... and I'm not going to be drawn into that."[7]
  • Lexington attorney Larry Forgy stated: "This is unconscionable. We'll impose $800 million worth of gambling losses on people who can't afford a ham sandwich."[4]
  • The four Catholic Archbishops in Kentucky opposed the proposal. The bishops at the time were Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Bishop Roger J. Foys of Covington, Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Lexington and Bishop William F. Medley of Owensboro. In a letter to state senators, the bishops wrote: "With their flashing lights, free-flowing alcoholic drinks, all-night hours and generally intoxicating atmosphere, casinos are more likely than other gambling options to lead to bad decisions and catastrophic losses for patrons, particularly those prone to problem or compulsive gambling."[8]

Path to the ballot

If 60% of the membership of each chamber of the Kentucky General Assembly approves, a proposed amendment goes on the ballot at the next general election during which members of the state legislature are up for election.

The measure was scheduled to be heard by the Senate State and Local Government Committee on February 22, 2012. If the committee chose to approve the measure, it would then be sent to the full Senate for a vote before being sent to the House if approved. That same day, the committee voted 7 to 4 to send the measure to the full Senate.[9][10]

However, on February 23, 2012, the measure was rejected by the Senate, with a vote of 21-16, killing the bill for the 2012 election.[11]

See also

Additional reading

References