In recent article on, it was revealed that elected officials of the Commonwealth of Kentucky are looking at expanding the gaming options for visitors to and residents of the state. As of now, the only gaming that is offered is betting on horse racing, which in itself raises millions of dollars for the Kentucky state coffers. The resolution, called House Bill 158, seeks to install video gaming devices at seven of the state’s racetracks in order to add potentially as much as $328 million per year in revenues. The news comes on the heels of a legal battle involving the seizure by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear of 141 internet gambling domain names.

At a meeting of the Kentucky Appropriations and Revenue committee last Thursday, the chairman of the group, Democratic Representative Rick Rand, stated that the increased income by adding video gambling to horse tracks could generate badly needed revenue for many of the state’s financially troubled agencies. According to the report from Forbes, Rand commented, “The recession that we are suffering now seems to be getting worse. Our projections for the immediate future are not good.”

While testimony regarding the proposed bill was heard for approximately two hours last Thursday, there appears to be little that will be done during the current legislative session. The Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Democratic Representative Greg Stumbo, has said that, with only days left in this legislative session, there isn’t enough time to bring it before the House for a vote. However, he remarked that it could come up again in the near future.

Stumbo believes that the addition of video gambling will generate about $1 billion in taxable revenues over five years, but other citizens in the State of Kentucky are not as supportive of the bill. According to Nancy Jo Kemper, who is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, the additional forms of gambling would create more discord with societal issues such as problem gambling. Kemper also states that it would drain profits from other areas of Kentucky’s economy, creating a zero-sum situation where there would be no true increase.

Not surprisingly, anti-casino advocates are also against the current bill. According to Forbes, a spokesman for the group Say No to Casinos believes that this is another effort to embellish the bank accounts of the wealthy, especially if its revenues were used to prop up other gaming areas, such as purses for horse racing. That spokesman, Martin Cothran, said in the interview, “We still think this is an unconstitutional millionaire’s bailout. This is Robin Hood in reverse. What this manipulative kind of gambling does is take money from the poor and gives it to the rich.”

The current debate over House Bill 158 comes on the heels of an attempt by Beshear to seize 141 online gambling and poker site domains. After winning an initial hearing in late November, the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned the decision in January by a 2-1 vote, stating that the Governor and Secretary of Justice and Public Safety, J. Michael Brown, could not use a criminal court for a civil action and that the State was overstepping its bounds. The decision is currently under appeal by the State to the Kentucky Supreme Court and, at this time, has not been scheduled to be heard.

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