11/09/2011 12:21PM

Beshear reelected as Kentucky governor

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat who has supported the efforts of state racing interests to obtain authorization for casino gambling, easily won reelection as Kentucky’s governor on Tuesday, beating a Republican challenger who has insisted that any expansion of gambling be approved by voters.

Beshear’s reelection was the best result for Kentucky’s racing interests, but it remains unclear whether Beshear will support legislative efforts to expand gambling or concede to Republican demands for a constitutional referendum. State racing interests have favored legislation, out of concern that such a referendum might not pass and of the inexpediency of the process compared with legislative approval.

During the campaign, Beshear continued to say that he supported expanded gambling at racetracks, while his main challenger, State Senate president David Williams, said that he would support a constitutional referendum. Kentucky racing interests have contributed millions of dollars to Beshear and other Democratic legislators to push their lobbying efforts.

Debate over expanded gambling is expected to be resurrected early next year during the next full session of the Kentucky legislation. Kentucky racing interests contend that the rapid expansion of casino gambling in neighboring states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, has put the Kentucky racing industry at a competitive disadvantage.

In other voting results on Tuesday, New Jersey voters approved a measure to legalize sports betting in the state. The vote, however, is non-binding, and in order to allow betting on sports, a federal ban on the practice would need to be lifted.