'Greed' by racetracks tanked casino bill but a simpler version could pass, Senate GOP leader says

08/10/2012 10:13 AM

Kentucky’s horse racetracks overreached this year by pushing to get casino licenses and competitive protections written into the state’s constitution, said Sen. Dan Seum, the Republican Senate caucus chairman from Louisville.

Seum said he supports allowing casinos in concept but couldn’t vote for the 2012 bill offered by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown because the proposed constitutional amendment guaranteed licenses to the tracks and barred free-standing casinos from being built within 60 miles of a racetrack.

“I thought what killed that bill, quite frankly, was just out-and-out greed … on the tracks’ part quite frankly. They just wanted all the marbles,” Seum said. (0:20)

The measure fell seven votes shy of the 23 needed to pass the state Senate in March. And both the Democratic and Republican caucuses split with four Democrats voting against the governor’s top issue of allowing expanded gambling and six Republicans voting for it.

Seum said it would have received more Republican votes if the language of the constitutional amendment would have been “clean.”

“All it had to be was one sentence: As of this date, casino gambling will be legal in the state of Kentucky. That’s all we had to do. That bill would have passed,” he said (2:00). Then, he said, the General Assembly could com back the next year and approve companion legislation to set up regulations and bidding procedures.

Seum said, “I hope it does” come up in 2013, and he said he would work with legislators and the governor to push a “clean” and simple constitutional amendment. (3:40)

Seum also said he expects Senate President David Williams to remain the leader of the upper chamber at least through the end of Gov. Steve Beshear’s second term, which ends in 2015. (6:00)

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