After years of pushing to legalize casino-style gambling in Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear sounds less than optimistic just days before the start of the next legislative session. Beshear has been hopeful that the retirement of Senate President David Williams, the Republican who was seen as the main roadblock to legalizing casinos, would improve the chances to legalize gambling. Williams resigned late last year when Beshear appointed him as a circuit judge in southern Kentucky. However, his departure doesn't appear to have significantly improved the odds of passing a gambling amendment in the Bible Belt state.
Despite a long history of wagering on horses, Kentucky has never allowed casinos. And many lawmakers have been reluctant to change that, knowing they may face disapproving constituents in future elections. Proponents say Kentucky could collect more than $250 million in one-time license fees by allowing casinos to open. They contend taxing them could generate more than $350 million annually for government programs and services.