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Tue January 17, 2012
Expanded Gambling Short on Votes, Opponents Claim
By Kenny Colston
Frankfort, KY – A key opponent to expanded gambling in Kentucky says the bill doesn't have the votes to pass this legislative session.
For years, the Family Foundation has mounted strong opposition to Governor Steve Beshear's chief legislative issue. The group's senior analyst, Martin Cothran, says Beshear's proposal will fall short in the Senate if it's voted on soon.
"Right now we just don't see where they have the votes in the state Senate," Cothran says. "We haven't counted votes in the House but they don't have the votes right now in the Senate and that's where it's gonna have to start cause the Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo has said that he's not going to make his members vote on a bill that hasn't already passed the Senate."
Beshear has been trying to build a bipartisan coalition to finally pass a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling in Kentucky. But the proposal is likely dead on arrival because a key argument is still unresolved. Advocates of expanded gambling can't decide whether to only let horse racing tracks have casinos or to allow for freestanding venues.
"That's always been their dilemma," Cothran says. "That's what's stopped legislation before, fighting between the horse industry and people who are just concerned about casino gambling. That's what's always killed it before and when we go talk to legislators, even ones who say they support an amendment, you hear a lot of them saying, 'I don't think we should write a monopoly for the horse tracks.' "
Beshear has said he'll present his amendment before February. But if it can't pass the Senate, the legislation will be effectively killed for another year.