October 30 – Owensboro-area GOP lawmakers and a Democratic member of a state task force on horse racing-related games said there was little or no chance that a Expanded gambling bill be adopted in Frankfurt in the 2022 session.
Earlier this week, Ellis Entertainment announced plans for a $ 16.7 million simulcast and historic horse racing facility, which is slated for Towne Square Mall. A bill passed by lawmakers earlier this year allows racetracks to have facilities within 60 miles of a track for simulcasting races and for historic racing games.
Efforts to legalize the expansion of casino-style gambling in Kentucky have been unsuccessful in the past. Although lawmakers allowed simulcasting off track and historic horse racing machine games in the last session, the General Assembly will focus on other issues in 2022, local lawmakers have said.
Rep. Suzanne Miles, a Republican from Owensboro and a member of the House of Representatives GOP leadership, said in a message Thursday that the leadership was focusing on the next state budget rather than other issues.
“The main focus of the session will be the budget, especially given the circumstances we have had to deal with with COVID and ARPA money coming from the federal government,” Miles said. “The main focus I have right now is working on the budget, and I think that would be the goal where the leadership is looking.”
Rep. DJ Johnson, a Republican from Owensboro, said he had heard no debate among lawmakers over an expanded gaming bill. No bill for the extension of the game had been tabled for consideration in Frankfurt.
Lawmakers will want to assess what’s going on with off-track simulcasting facilities and historic horse racing before considering any other gambling legislation, Johnson said.
“It appears the legislature is happy with the current status quo,” Johnson said. Lawmakers will assess the impact of the bill passed earlier this year “before discussing anything else,” Johnson said.
Representative Al Gentry, a Democrat of Louisville and a member of the task force on the taxation of mutual betting, said there was probably no political will in Frankfurt to pass an expanded gambling bill , but said it was possible to pass legislation allowing sports betting.
“When it comes to casino type games, I would say there’s no chance,” Gentry said. “The real reason is that there just isn’t enough support in the majority party, in both chambers.”
Republicans control both the House and the Senate.
Gentry said Democrats would support such a bill, but added “there aren’t enough of them to count.”
“When you talk about any kind of extended game, I would say the only (possibility) is sports betting,” Gentry said.
The task force, which was created by the bill that allowed simulcasting off track and historic horse racing machines, is examining how the different types of horse racing related betting are taxed and how those tax dollars are being taxed. allocated. Currently, part of this income is allocated to help pay for athletics scholarships, for a breeding fund and to universities with equine programs.
Gentry said committee members are considering changes to the distribution of income from horse racing, and he said some of those funds could be allocated to help those addicted to gambling.
This change enjoys bipartisan support, Gentry said.
“I think you’ll see some movement there,” he said.
Gentry said he is backing some of those dollars going to local governments where historic horse racing facilities are located.
Rep. Jim Gooch, a Republican from Providence, said a bill to create more extensive gambling, such as casino games, is unlikely in the next session.
“I don’t expect anything like this to move this session,” Gooch said. “We are going to tackle the redistribution and the budget.”
Lawmakers struggled to pass the bill passed earlier this year, Gooch said, and said the legislature was pressured to act after the Supreme Court ruled that the historic horse racing machines used on some leads were not mutual bets. Historic horse racing machines are like slot machines using randomly selected and already organized horse races.
“We struggled to get it passed, and it was the result of a court ruling that forced us to do something,” Gooch said.
Gooch, who represents Webster, McLean and parts of Daviess and Hopkins counties, said passing an expanded gambling bill would not be an expansion for his constituents in Webster County.
“Once you cross the bridge (at Henderson) you already have full-scale casinos,” in Evansville, Gooch said. “Nothing we could do would bring him closer to my constituents. “
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, [email protected], Twitter: @JamesMayse