Louisville lawmaker files casino gambling bills - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville lawmaker files casino gambling bills

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- It has been a losing issue for years, but does expanded gambling have a real chance at passage next year?

A Louisville lawmaker is first out of the gate with a plan.

The stage is set for another battle at the State Capitol over expanded gambling. But no one is setting odds as to who might win and who might lose.

"Well I think, literally, if we don't do it this year, it will never happen," said Rep. Larry Clark of Louisville, a Democrat who also serves as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House.

Clark has pre-filed two expanded gambling bills.

One is a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide the issue.

"It's a simple, almost one-sentence constitutional amendment," he said.

The second is a companion bill that outlines a plan to license and regulate casinos.

Clark's bill would allow up to eight casinos - five at the state's race tracks and three other stand-alone casinos.

Clark says they would generate a quarter-billion dollars a year in revenue, with half going to education.

"So, what I'm trying to do is get it up and running as quickly as I possibly can, generate more money for the state and also protect the signature industry, in a nutshell," said Clark.

Clark says he tried to combine elements from previous failed attempts to pass expanded gambling.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree the issue appears to have some momentum.

"The downward pressure being placed on our racetracks in particular from surrounding states, which are subsidizing their racing and breeding industries with casino proceeds, is enormous," said Republican Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown, the Senate Majority Leader.

But opponents are ready for a fight which, they believe, they'll win.

"I think we need build the state's economy on producing things. Gambling doesn't produce things. In fact it hurts a lot of people," said Martin Cothran, Senior Policy Analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky.

The 2014 session begins Jan. 7.

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