11/21/2013 9:42AM

Kentucky casino bills filed in advance of 2014 legislative session


A Kentucky state legislator has pre-filed two bills for the 2014 session that could potentially lead to the authorization of casino gambling in the state.

One bill would authorize a referendum asking voters whether they approve of adding language to the state constitution that would allow the legislature to enact laws permitting casinos. The second would authorize casinos at five Kentucky racetracks and at three other locations in the state, according to copies of the bills available on the state legislature’s website.

Casino gambling is expected to be high on the agenda in the Kentucky legislature next year. The issue has been debated off and on for the past two decades, but supporters of legalization, including racetracks, have pressed the issue more aggressively over the past six years, in part because of the rapid expansion of casinos in neighboring states.

The bills were pre-filed by Rep. Larry Clark, a Democrat from Louisville, where Churchill Downs Inc. is based. Clark has been one of the leading advocates for the authorization of casinos over the past several years.

The bill calling for eight casinos in the state would require the tracks to set aside 14.5 percent of the revenues from casinos for purses and breeding awards. The racetrack casinos would be taxed at 25 percent for the first three years of operation, and 30 percent afterward, while the freestanding casinos would be taxed at 39.5 percent for the first three years and 44.5 percent afterward, according to the bill.