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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville business leaders are rallying major support for expanded gambling in Kentucky. The group is renewing the effort after past legislation fell flat in previous sessions.
Kentucky Wins is a non-profit led by co-chairs Jonathan Blue of Blue Equity and Ed Glasscock of Frost Brown Todd Attorneys. The group is taking a new approach that focuses on tax revenue rather than the thoroughbred industry.
In the past, proposed legislation that would have allowed for expanded gambling was led by thoroughbred industry leaders and benefited Kentucky race tracks.
Glasscock claims the state is missing out on around $500 million by not hosting casinos. He wants to see that money stay in-state and benefit essential programs.
"If we can move the $500 million that is now being gambled in adjoining states to Kentucky," said Glasscock, "it will be a great opportunity for our state to move to the next level."
Kentucky Wins proposes money from casinos go towards education, medicaid, pensions, the Kentucky coal industry, and universities.
In Frankfort Tuesday, Governor Steve Beshear told WDRB that he supports the group's effort.
"If we can allow expanded gaming in Kentucky, we're looking at anywhere from $200-$400 million a year that would come into our budget." But he says its too early to tell if the votes are there this legislative session. Plus, he says, he worries that like in the past disagreements among the horse industry will dissolve any progress. "This is a difficult issue even if you have everybody on board and so when they're divided it makes it almost impossible to get anything done."
Kentucky Wins won't say where the casinos would go if legislation passes, but even if the casinos aren't run by the race tracks, the group says they have the support of Churchill Downs.
In a statement to WDRB, Churchill said they would let the voters decide: "We are supportive of their efforts and look forward to working with them to create jobs and provide much needed revenue to the state."