Ky. Senate committee could vote Wednesday on casinos

Turfway Park (file image)
Turfway Park (file image)

FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19) - Turfway Park is one of the race tracks that could have a casino built on property if casinos become legal in Kentucky.

One Kentucky lawmaker says he has the votes to take Senate Bill 151 to the ballot. Governor Steve Beshear and State Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) introduced the bill that if approved, would put five casinos at racetracks and two standalone casinos across the state.

In order to put the bill on the ballot in November, it would require three-fifths approval in both houses, that's 60 State Representatives and 23 Senators. A Senate committee is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday in Frankfort.

The idea of casinos has been received well by racetracks, however there is one provision in the bill that would hurt the potential to have a casino on the Kentucky riverfront near Cincinnati. In the bill, it states that a standalone casino could not be built within 60 miles of a racetrack. Turfway Park is just ten miles south of the river.

Opposition to the idea of casinos is running high from the church. Catholic Bishops in Kentucky are speaking out and have issued warnings about the consequences of gambling to state lawmakers. The Catholic Conference of Kentucky distributed a letter to state senators on behalf of the states four Bishops including Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Bishop Roger J. Foys of Covington, Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Lexington and Bishop William F. Medley of Owensboro. The letter was authored by the Rev. Patrick Delahanty, executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.

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"With their flashing lights, free-flowing alcoholic drinks, all-night hours and generally intoxicating atmosphere, casinos are more likely than other gambling options to lead to bad decisions and catastrophic losses for patrons, particularly those prone to problem or compulsive gambling," wrote Delahanty.

Right now no locations have been named for the casinos and trying to pass such legislation has failed in at least nine legislative sessions over the last 11 years. There have been several proposals passed in House committees, but only a bill for video slots in 2009 passed through the chambers. It did die in a Senate committee shortly after.