Kentucky's AG to Lobby for Legal Betting if Elected as Governor
Attorney General Beshear announced his gubernatorial campaign last week. The official said that he would look to legalize casino gambling, sports betting, and online poker. Kentucky currently has horse racing and Lottery.
Kentuckians are set to head to the poll and elect their new Governor on November 5 of this year.
Attorney General Beshear said he plans to bring Las Vegas-style casino gambling to the state as well as sports betting and online poker. All tax revenue contributed from these activities will be directed toward pensions.
He said last week that “expanded gaming is a long-overdue and common sense way to make Kentucky more competitive and protect the hard-earned pensions of our teachers and first responders.”
The state’s Attorney General went on that “while (Gov.) Matt Bevin is making up excuses and false claims, Indiana and our neighboring states continue to steal our revenue” and that he would “always put the best interests of our people first – and that includes expanding gaming to create new opportunities here in Kentucky.”
Of Kentucky’s neighboring states, Tennessee, Illinois, and Indiana legalized sports betting this year, while West Virginia legalized the practice early last year ahead of the landmark US Supreme Court ruling that struck down the long-standing PASPA ban.
West Virginia went live with sports betting last fall, while Indiana debuted its first retail sportsbooks early this month.
Will Sports Betting Gain Traction?
The gambling expansion matter has been brought up for discussion in the state Legislature a number of times over the years, but has never managed to gain enough support. Attorney General Beshear’s father, former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, pitched the legalization of casino gambling during his two terms from 2007 to 2015. His never managed to succeed in his effort, even though neighboring states, most notably Ohio, opened their first Las Vegas-style gambling facilities at about that time.
This year, Rep. Adam Koenig, a Republican from Northern Kentucky, tabled a bill that called for the legalization of both digital and retail sports betting. Rep. Koenig’s legislation needed 60 votes from the 100 House members to reach the state Senate. However, the piece failed to gain the necessary support. Rep. Koenig said that his push would gain enough backing in 2020, which is an even-numbered year and he will only need around 51 votes to advance the sports betting matter.
Gov. Bevin has historically been “agnostic” on athletic gambling. He has also said that he does not believe casino gambling would make any significant impact on pension funding. The state’s top official has also commented on the impact expanded gambling would have on families, saying “somebody takes their life in a casino because they’ve wasted the last semblance of dignity and hope that they had.”
In his campaign, Attorney General Beshear said that his gambling expansion plan would also include working with non-profit organizations to help those suffering from gambling addiction.