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Casino Gambling In Kentucky Heats Up Race

casino gambling in kentucky

Casino gambling is an issue that has become central to the gubernatorial campaign in the state of Kentucky. The Commonwealth, which is closely associated with thoroughbred racing and institutions such as Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, knows that neighboring states have been experiencing some success as they venture into casinos in Kentucky and sports betting.

Casino Gambling In Kentucky Becomes A Hot Topic

And the two candidates for the governor’s office could not be more opposed to each other when it comes to how to address this emerging issue. And it has led to some outrageous statements, which might lead a casual observer to the conclusion that the strategy of “scare tactics” is very much in effect.

The incumbent, Governor Matt Bevin, isn’t merely opposed to legalizing casino gambling in Kentucky, he takes the position that it is a severe social and moral ill, and dangerous aside from that.

During a radio interview, Bevin said, “Every night somewhere in America somebody takes their life in a casino because they’ve wasted the last semblance of dignity and hope that they had.” Wherever he found his basis for that comment, well, he never indicated it.

American Gaming Association Says “patently false and irresponsible”?

And of course, it came with resistance from the gaming community. Bill Miller, who serves as the president of the American Gaming Association, labeled the comments as “patently false and irresponsible.”

Andy Beshear is Bevin’s opponent, and he is a staunch advocate for expanded gambling in the state. His proposal involves dedicates the taxes on gambling to fund the state’s pension system, which has been experiencing some difficulties.

Bevin’s answer is to have more people in Kentucky paying taxes.

Beshear’s father, Steve Beshear, who was a two-term governor, also favored casinos, and went so far as to try to eliminate competition from online casinos by seizing a number of domain names in 2009. Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet, Cake Poker, and PokerStars were some of the sites he took action against.

In Kentucky, it’s fair to say that there are a lot of interests that are immersed in the gambling culture. Take the racetrack industry, for example. Churchill Downs Incorporated is well-positioned for gambling, if an when it is approved. They already full gaming locations in other states. And last year they opened up Derby City Gaming, a $65 million, 85,000-square foot facility that has over a thousand “historical racing machines,” which are based on past results of races. And they are partnering with Keeneland, another race track, to build a $125 million gaming house that will include a hotel.

Also, the Seminole Hard Rock group has recently completed a purchase of Turfway Park (pending approval), and they intend to be very aggressive in their pursuit of both casino gambling and sports betting.

Those proponents of gambling contend that it would bring in anywhere between $250 million and $1 billion in the first year of operations. And Beshear’s proposal would also include online sports betting.

Like other states that have contemplated similar legislation, Kentucky is feeling the squeeze from the states around it. Whether it’s Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana , there are states with casinos doing healthy business right across the river.

In terms of the rhetoric, this is going to get very ugly. Sam Newton, who is a campaign spokesperson for Beshear, lashed out at Bevin after the radio interview in question.

“Matt Bevin’s erratic claims today do nothing to solve any problems and are further proof he’s unfit to lead.”

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HARD ROCK SCOOPS UP CASINO, RACETRACK IN CINCY AREA

hard rock casino

Hard Rock International is expanding some more. The gaming giant recently entered into an agreement to purchase two gaming facilities from JACK Entertainment. Aside from their Cincinnati casino, JACK also sold Turfway Park, a pari-mutuel establishment in Florence, Kentucky, which is across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

The total figure is $780 million.

The sale should be final later in the year. Procedural issues will also affect a delay, such as approvals that have to be made on the part of both state and federal authorities.

When Will Hard Rock Take Over Jack Casino In Ohio?

Hard Rock will not own the property at which the Cincinnati casino is located; that was bought by VICI Properties, which was involved in a previous land transaction in which JACK sold its Greektown Hotel-Casino in Detroit to the Penn National organization. The Hard Rock will enter into a “favorable triple-net leased fee arrangement” and they are going to embark on upgrading on what will become a re-branded property, to be known, logically enough, as “Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati.”

This would be the second casino destination for Hard Rock in the state of Ohio. The Hard Rock Racino Northfield Park was transferred to MGM Growth Properties last summer for $1.08 billion and is being re-branded.

JACK is very active in the Cleveland area, with the operation of two major facilities – JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Thistledown Racino (connected to the thoroughbred racetrack there).

Gambling In Cincinnati

The former JACK casino is located on a 22-acre tract (which will now be owned by VICI) in the Broadway Commons area of downtown Cincinnati. And it is a rather spacious casino, with 100,000 square feet of gaming area. Reportedly it was the most popular casino in what is a market with some competition, pulling in $203.5 million in revenues.

Hard Rock wanted to purchase both the casino and the racetrack from JACK. At Turfway they will get both the operation itself and the land. Interestingly, although Turfway has been approved for “historical racing games,” otherwise known as instant racing, they were never installed under JACK Entertainment’s stewardship.

Turfway and Hard Rock Cincinnati won’t be physically connected, obviously. But there is not a whole lot of distance between them, as they are about 15-20 minutes away from each other. While the Hard Rock representatives talked about the improvements to the casino, there wasn’t a whole lot of discussion yet about what they want to do with Turfway Park. Their interest in thoroughbred racing is clear; they are currently involved in some sponsorship deals with leading jockeys in high-profile races.

Caesars bankruptcy Benefits VICI?

VICI Properties professes that “We will be the real estate partner of choice for the world’s leading creators & operators of place-based, scaled leisure & hospitality experiences.” They control more than 39 million square feet of space – 1.2 millions of it designated for gaming – and they the property itself to, among others, Caesars Entertainment Corporation. The CEO is Edward B. Pitoniak. Much of VICI’s original real estate portfolio came as a result of a Caesars bankruptcy, where the real assets were spun off. Pitoniak says that he would like VICI to become the “next great American REIT (real estate investment trust).”

The founder of JACK Entertainment and CEO of its parent company, Rock Ventures, is Dan Gilbert, who is perhaps better known as the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans are as the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. JACK’s special focus in gaming has been to focus on casinos that are located in urban areas, But the number of locations has been reduced. Aside from the Cleveland properties, they are involved in a limited way with the Horseshoe Baltimore casino, but that is all that remains at the moment.

• Source: Dan Gilbert’s JACK Entertainment will sell Cincinnati casino and Kentucky’s Turfway Park to Hard Rock From Cleveland.com On April 5, 2019.

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