Despite a poll demonstrating that state voters would back casinos, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is not backing any proposal to bring casino gaming to the Bluegrass State, citing opposition from three Kentucky racetracks, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
Beshear said he would reconsider if the tracks in question—Kentucky Downs in Franklin, and Keeneland and the Red Mile in Lexington—retreat from their position that racetracks must operate casinos. Many in the horse industry contend that any expansion of gaming would have to be structured to help and not hinder or compete with the tracks.
“I feel that if those tracks were on board, we would have the votes in the Senate now to pass that type of amendment,” Beshear said. “I do feel confident that if all of the industry would get its act together and if these tracks would step up and support this approach, along with the breeders and owners, we would have a real shot at passing something this session.”
To legalize casino gaming in the state, lawmakers would first have to pass a constitutional amendment that would put casinos to a referendum.
The most famous track in Kentucky, Churchill Downs, supports Beshear but also looks forward to more gaming in the state renowned for its wagers on horse races including the Kentucky Derby.
“We’re committed to passing expanded gaming,” Churchill Downs Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Brett Hale said. “It’s the right thing to do for the commonwealth of Kentucky. It’s the right thing for the industry. We’ll continue to work with the governor to find a solution.”
Beshear may wait until 2014 to go forward with a bill.
Meanwhile, a recent Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll indicated more than 60 percent of Kentuckians support amending the state constitution to allow casinos.