Amendment to allow 5 casinos at tracks plus 2 freestanding; revenue to go to programs, schools, racing

02/14/2012 10:04 AM

The proposed 131-word constitutional amendment to expand gambling in Kentucky would give the General Assembly the ability to approve up to five casinos and racetracks and two free-standing ones not with in 60 miles of tracks.

Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, and Republican state Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown unveiled the measure at a Capitol news conference flanked by lawmakers from both parties. The overwhelming theme of the morning was: it’s time to put the issue to a vote once and for all both by the General Assembly and the electorate.

The language of the constitutional amendment also says that revenue from casinos should go to the areas of government such as education, human services, local governments, veterans programs as well as to support job creation to “support the horse industry.”

But it leaves the logistics of how much to the legislature to decide later in a separate bill.

The constitutional amendment is meant to explicitly give the legislature the power to create and decide how to regulate casinos. The amendment requires approval of three-fifths of both chambers of the General Assembly — 23 votes in the Senate and 60 in the House. If approved, it goes to the ballot for ratification by voters in November.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson told Pure Politics last week that the votes are there in the Senate to approve it and groundwork is beginning to be laid in the House, although no vote count has occurred yet.

Here’s the text of the proposed amendment:

“Notwithstanding any provision of the Constitution to the contrary, the General Assembly shall by general law authorize the establishment and operation of casino gaming at no more than five horse racing tracks licensed by the horse racing regulatory authority of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and at no more than two other locations. Casinos not located at licensed horse racing tracks shall be located not less than sixty miles from a licensed horse racing track premises. The General Assembly shall provide for the strict regulation of all authorized casino gaming in the interest of the people, and the Commonwealth’s revenue derived from any authorized casino gaming shall be expended for purposes including job creation, education, human services, health care, veterans programs, local governments, public safety and the support of the horse industry.”


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