'Clean' approach is best with expanded gambling proposal, lawmaker says

09/19/2011 07:57 AM

The simpler the better when it comes to a constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling in Kentucky, said Republican Rep. Mike Nemes of Louisville.

Nemes, a freshman lawmaker, said he thought that had the best chance of passing. He pre-filed the proposal earlier this month in advance of the 2012 session.

The constitutional amendment includes language that would allow counties to approve expanded gambling. But a companion bill outlines the specifics of it. For instance, casino gambling can be approved by voters of counties with 30,000 people or more — or groups of counties whose combined population of more than 30,000.

And the casino gambling can be at horse racetracks or free-standing casinos.

Nemes disagreed with Republican Senate President David Williams, who outlined provisions of a constitutional amendment that could pass the state Senate. For instance, Williams thought a proposal that includes language guaranteeing money to horse breeders and trainers would be easier to sell politically.

“I prefer a clean bill where there is no guarantee to anyone,” Nemes said at 3:45 in the interview.

Nemes also said he talked about his proposal to key Democrats, including Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville. Find out what Nemes said about those talks at the 4:30 mark.

Nemes also said lawmakers from counties that might oppose expanded gambling like the approach because it potentially would give them two chances to oppose it — the constitutional amendment and the local option vote if the constitutional amendment does pass statewide.

“A lot of them like that it doesn’t have to come to their county … This gives them two options to vote it down,” he said after the 6:00 mark.

Nationally, 32 states allow casino style gambling, including 12 that only allow gambling at facilities run by Native Americans.

Nemes said that saturation shouldn’t deter Kentucky from joining in.

A bill allowing slots at racetracks passed the state House in 2009 but failed in the Senate. That was the farthest any casino-style gambling legislation has gotten in the General Assembly.

Here is the text of the constitutional amendment as Nemes has proposed:

“The General Assembly shall, by general law, provide a means whereby the sense of the people of any county may be taken, as to whether or not the operation of regulated casinos shall be permitted, which may include the operation of gaming at horse racing tracks. All elections on this question may be held on a regular election day or on a day other than a regular election day.”

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