Louisville's GLI Inc. backing latest push for expanded gambling - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville's GLI Inc. backing latest push for expanded gambling in Ky.

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Frankfort, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's the hot button issue that refuses to die. There is yet another effort to change the constitution and allow casinos in Kentucky.

This time it's Greater Louisville, Inc., Louisville's chamber of commerce, that is leading the charge for expanded gambling.

It's like a slot machine that never pays off. For years, supporters have looked to casino gambling as a way solve the state's budget woes, each time, they go away empty handed.

But now, Greater Louisville, Inc. says things are different.

“We have a crisis at hand and, as they say, don't waste a good crisis,” Kent Oyler, president and CEO of Greater Louisville, Inc., told WDRB News.

The state is facing a multi-billion dollar shortfall in its pension systems.

“This is a way to bring additional revenue into play. Right now, we don't have any other proposals to bring additional revenue into play. This is a big one,” said Oyler.

If lawmakers place the issue on the ballot, and if voters approve, 90-percent of the revenue from casinos would go towards pensions for ten years; and 10 percent to the horse industry.

The bill avoids controversial issues such as where the casinos would be located.

“This is simply saying, ‘Do you want casino gaming to be in Kentucky?’ Then we can come back and decide how that will be enacted after we have the power to actually do it,” said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville).

But opponents say this new approach is not enough to win them over.

“We just can't imagine a set of circumstances where preying upon the poor, which is what gambling of this kind does, would be the answer to this kind of an issue,” said Tom Troth, a lobbyist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

McGarvey says his bill has bipartisan backing. It is co-sponsored by Louisville Republican Julie Raque Adams.

But even past supporters of expanded gaming, such as Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, say it's a long shot.

“I just think that the boat has sailed on expanded gambling in Kentucky,” he said.

But Oyler is optimistic.

“We're hopeful that this is the time that this thing can make it through. Again, we have a compelling reason to move forward,” he said.

Amendments to the constitution can only be considered in even numbered years. So, if expanded gambling doesn't pass this year, it's dead until 2018.

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