Legislation changing the Kentucky state constitution to allow casino gambling is a dead issue until at least 2010, says an opponent of the bill, after backers of the measure failed in their bid to get it out of the state House and before voters this November.
Governor Steve Beshear conceded that the bill has no chance of passing before the current session ends and could not garner the 60 votes necessary once out of committee to pass on the House floor. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports despite a chamber dominated by fellow Democrats — and a proposal by Beshear revealed to members several weeks ago involving casino and racetrack distribution — advocating parties could not come to terms on specific benefits for each venue.
Several coalitions of both religious and secular opponents are breathing a sigh of relief in the state, according to Dr. Nancy Jo Kemper of Citizens Against Gambling Expansion (CAGE). Kemper, who is also executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, says she is relieved. There are now many happy opponents, she says, including those in groups other than hers, who fought the effort to bring casino gambling into the state.
“We believe that it is in the best interest of the people of the state, and all of our businesses as well, that this kind of predatory economic enterprise has not been allowed to gain a foothold here in Kentucky … and we can preserve the things that are more appropriate to our state,” says Kemper.
The anti-gambling activist explains that since it involves a constitutional amendment, the bill cannot be brought back up inside the legislature’s session until an even-numbered year, which makes it a dead issue.
Beshear had made the drive to get a referendum ballot into the hands of voters part of his campaign platform last year as a proposed solution to help the state’s budget woes.