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Expanded gambling effort no sure bet

by WHAS11


Posted on January 25, 2012 at 11:32 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The payout on a slot machine is predetermined, but the fate of expanded gambling legislation in Kentucky is just the opposite, up in the air.

In the absence of details of a promised constitutional amendment, lawmakers have given the effort a generally tepid response.

"There's going to be a lack of enthusiasm because it is so controversial and members don't want to deal with it," said Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown). 

"I think we're going to have to have some sort of compromise between racetrack locations and non-racetrack locations but at the same time ensuring that there is not a proliferation of casino gambling in Kentucky," Thayer said, adding that Kentucky is a small state that can't sustain a large number of casinos.

The Republican senator partnering with the Democratic governor isn't sure when he will introduce an expanded gambling bill

"I don't know if it's going to be this week," Thayer said on Tuesday.  "Things haven't gone as I had predicted they would."

The same might be said by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D), who campaigned on expanded gambling in 2007 yet has failed to advance the measure in several attempts.

"We're working to bring the necessary votes together," Beshear told WHAS11.  "We're laying the foundation and in the next few days you'll see that bill introduced."

"We think the expanded gambling effort is in trouble right now, particularly in the Senate," said Martin Cothran, spokesman for the Family Foundation, a group opposed to the effort.

House leadership is waiting for the Senate to act first, yet with each day that passes without Senate action, gambling opponents gain confidence.

"I think they are losing votes by the day because the governor is delaying on introducing this bill," Cothran added.  "We're in the fourth week of the session.  They've had a year to get ready for this.  And we're wondering, what's taken so long?"

The contentious and bitter battle over redrawing the boundaries of the lawmakers' districts has created a difficult atmosphere to broker a bipartisan agreement.

"We've got the legislative redistricting done but we're at a stalemate on Congressional redistricting and the candidate filing deadline is Tuesday," Thayer acknowledged.  "People are on edge."