Governor Steve Beshear’s expanded gambling amendment has failed in the state Senate.
The measure would have allowed for a public vote on whether to legalize casinos in the state. It fell seven votes short of the 23 it needed to move to the House. The shortfall was due largely to fractures in the Democratic caucus.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Republican Senator Damon Thayer, says he’s finished with the issue after nine years of working on it.
“I did everything I could do. I did everything I said I would do. I’ve been completely consistent for nine years. And it ended in defeat today. That’s the way it goes. You win some, you lose some,” he says.
Senate President David Williams, an opponent of the issue, says the vote shows that support never existed for casinos in Kentucky.
“The question was, 'was it ever alive for this session?' Obviously it was never alive for this session. There has never been the support in the Kentucky state Senate for passage of expansion of gambling. There wasn’t last year, there wasn’t the year before that. There hasn’t been the entire tenure the Governor was here and now the votes are out there and everyone knows,” he says.
Beshear released a statement after the vote criticizing Williams for not waiting to conduct the vote because one yes vote, Senator Gerald Neal, was out of town Thursday. But the governor also says he’ll continue to push the issue and he sees the floor vote as a good omen, despite the bill’s failure.
"For the very first time, we were able to get this issue considered by the state Senate, and I appreciate the bipartisan cooperation of Sen. Thayer and others, which allowed that to happen. This is a good omen for the future of expanded gaming in our state, and I look forward to continuing to work with the legislature to address this issue," Beshear's statement says.
The vote kills the amendment for this legislative session. Thayer says he won't try and put the amendment's language into another bill.