Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Sen. Damon Thayer joined forces Tuesday to sponsor a bill that would authorize a statewide referendum asking voters to allow expanded gambling in up to seven locations.
Beshear and Thayer said the bill was “the best way to keep hundreds of millions of dollars here at home.”
“We’ve been debating this issue in Frankfort for more than 15 years,” the governor said. “Two recent polls show more than 80% of Kentuckians want to cast a ballot on gaming.”
The measure would allow Kentucky voters to vote on a constitutional amendment authorizing up to five casinos at racetracks and two at stand-alone locations at least 60 miles from the nearest racetrack.
Revenue from the gambling facilities would support the general fund.
“A recent economic study showed that in 2010, Kentuckians spent $451 million on casino gaming in our neighboring states,” the Democratic governor said. “That’s hundreds of millions of dollars that could be supporting our schools and building our roads – but instead it’s padding the budgets of Indiana and West Virginia.”
Beshear said a recent economic study estimated that expanding gaming at racetracks would bring one-time license fees of $266 million and $377 million in taxes annually into the general fund.
Details such as license fees, tax rates and where to put the casinos will be determined by enabling legislation if voters approve the gambling amendment.
Because the bill is a constitutional amendment, it must receive at least 60% of the votes in each legislative chamber before going to voters.