Even though they disagree on issue, Williams and Beshear lay out path for expanded gambling

07/20/2011 03:45 PM

LOUISVILLE — What started as another point of disagreement between the Democratic governor and his Republican challenger, revealed a possible path to approving expanded gambling in Kentucky.

Republican David Williams, the state Senate president, said while he opposes gambling, he wouldn’t stand in the way of allowing a vote in the Senate on a constitutional amendment to allow slot machines. And after taking several failed runs at allowing expanded gambling, Gov. Steve Beshear said he’d support a constitutional amendment approach.

At the end of the Farm Bureau forum between the two men, a Farm Bureau board member who asked what the candidates would do to help protect Kentucky’s horse industry in the future.

Beshear, who has twice pushed for expanded gambling to help racetracks and the house industry, accused Williams of standing in the way of the gambling issue.

He said it was “stupid” to not help the horse industry with gambling because Kentucky’s neighboring states were doing it.

Beshear said the state was in danger of losing its title as Horse Capital of the World.

Williams shot back that Beshear had changed his approach to gambling too often from pushing for free-standing casinos or just slot machines at race tracks, which has led to a fractured front.

He said if Beshear wanted expanded gambling in Kentucky, he should push for a constitutional amendment to do so. And even if Beshear did start a push for the constitutional amendment, Williams said he wouldn’t vote or support the measure.

In a news conference afterward, Beshear said he would support getting expanded gambling started in Kentucky if it took a constitutional amendment to do so.

But the governor hedged his bets by saying he didn’t hear Williams say he would allow such a measure to pass through the state Senate.

In his own news conference, Williams said if Beshear would line up public support, even in the legislative interim and get an amendment passed through the House, he wouldn’t stand in the way of the measure.

In fact, Williams said he believes the votes in the Senate would be in favor of putting such an amendment on the ballot, but he repeated that he wouldn’t support it.

- Kenny Colston


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