Expanded gambling unlikely to pass until Senate leadership changes, Stumbo says

07/22/2011 11:09 AM

Kentucky lawmakers should approve expanded gambling through legislation — not a constitutional change — although it’s not likely to happen as long as the current group of Republicans control the state Senate, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said.

Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat, made the comments a day after Republican Senate President David Williams suggested that Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear should support a constitutional amendment approach to allow expanded gambling. And Williams said he wouldn’t stand in the way of the Senate voting on it, which also must be approved by voters.

A constitutional amendment approach is a political cop out, Stumbo told more than 50 people Thursday night at the Northern Kentucky Legacy group’s “Newsmakers” event.

He said he doesn’t like the idea of legislators avoiding tough decisions by passing it along to voters in a California-proposition style. However, he said he’d want an expanded gambling proposal that would let voters approve casinos or slot machines at tracks in their communities.

Stumbo said he would expect no more than “five to six” casinos either at race tracks or free standing casinos, mostly in populated areas.

“It’s not going to be in places like Madisonville and Prestonsburg,” he said of casino-type gaming.

-Reporting by Ryan Alessi, video production by Don Weber

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