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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- State lawmakers got their first look at the latest proposal for casino gambling in Kentucky Wednesday -- and supporters say they believe momentum is on their side.
Kentucky's increasingly lean state budget, struggling horse industry, and growing public support for new revenue sources are creating an environment amicable to expanded gambling, some believe.
Rep. Larry Clark outlined his plan for a House committee Wednesday morning. It includes a simple amendment, allowing voters to say '"Yes" or "No" to expanded gambling, as well as a separate bill detailing where the gaming revenue goes, and how the industry should be regulated. Clark's bill calls for eight casinos, with five of them at racetracks. He believes casino gambling will generate $200 million for the state.
"We have to put money in the general fund to fund education, to fund health and human services," said Clark. "Most of the agencies are running at 25-30 percent capacity right now because we've cut all the other agencies to protect education."
"We're giving the voter an opportunity to make the decision," said Rep Dennis Keene. "I don't think this is a hard vote for anybody, politically, because you're just saying, 'Hey, up or down? Is this a revenue source you want to enhance?'"
Opponents do not believe support for expanded gambling is there.
"We've heard the same talk for 15 years," said Martin Cothran with the Family Foundation. "I mean, the legislature has said no for 15 years. And we think we should just move on to other issues."
The committee will hold a second hearing on Jan. 22 to allow opponents to have their say.