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N. Ky. Lawmaker Wants To Legalize Casinos In The Commonwealth

Posted On September 20, 2017

By Mike Perleberg

State Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) is proposing a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gaming in Kentucky. Photo from DennisKeene.com.

(Frankfort, Ky.) – A northern Kentucky lawmaker suggests that casino gaming could help Kentucky solve its deepening pension fund problem.

State representatives Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) and Rick Rand (D-Bedford) have pre-filed a constitutional amendment bill to allow casinos in Kentucky. They say it could generate up to $325 million in one-time casino licensing fees, plus $236 million annually in gaming revenue.

“Casinos are already located along all of Kentucky’s borders and those states are reaping the benefits of additional tax revenues,” said Keene. “Kentucky’s lottery gambling is highly successful and by expanding existing gaming venues to allow for casino-type games, we will grow a new revenue source to help us catch up on the pension shortfall.”

The proposal seeks to allow Kentucky voters to decide on the issue, opening doors for up local-option casinos in up to 10 locations across the state. Casinos would be overseen by the Kentucky Lottery Board.

The passage of casino gaming is a longshot with Republican Governor Matt Bevin opposing the idea. GOP lawmakers, with majorities in both the Kentucky House and Senate, are also widely opposed.

Bevin has attempted to implement budget cuts to address the commonwealth’s $40 billion public pension shortfall.

“The uncertainty in the pension system at this time is leading to a mass exodus of experienced teachers, state police officers and state and county workers who will flood the retirement system,” said State Rep. Rand. “Do voters want to allow the new revenue from expanding gaming to build the pension fund or would they rather have cuts made on the backs of the state’s over 100,000 retirees? It’s time to put the gaming issue on the ballot so the public can have their say on this issue.”