Casino Gambling In Kentucky Heats Up Race
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.”