01/14/2015 10:44AM

Kentucky gubernatorial candidate supports casino gambling


LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Republican candidate for this year’s gubernatorial election in Kentucky formally entered the race Tuesday with a promise to push for the legalization of casino gambling in the state.

Will T. Scott, a former Kentucky Supreme Court justice, is the third Republican to enter the race and is expected to face long odds in a campaign against James Comer, the state’s agriculture commissioner, and Hal Heiner, a businessman from Louisville. So far, he is the only gubernatorial candidate to make specific comments about the legalization of casino gambling, although the sole Democratic candidate, state attorney general Jack Conway, has voiced tentative support for casinos in the past.

Scott said he would support an amendment to the state’s constitution that would allow for casinos at four racetrack locations and at one non-racetrack location. The money raised from taxes and license fees on the operations would be used to shore up the state’s pension fund, which has $31 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Gov. Steve Beshear, who cannot run this year because of term limits, has supported a constitutional amendment expanding gambling throughout his two terms, but an array of Republicans and Democrats have blocked any bills from making much headway in the legislature. Support among some Kentucky racing constituents for casinos has waned in recent months, most notably within the grassroots Kentucky Equine Education Project, which said late last year it would no longer support casino legislation.