03/30/2008 11:00PM

Kentucky slots advocates regroup


Another major push by the racing industry for casino legislation in Kentucky may have to wait until 2010 because of a requirement of state law that limits constitutional referenda to even-numbered years.

The even-number requirement will give the racing industry time to prepare a strategy to push for casinos after the issue was unceremoniously dropped by Gov. Steve Beshear last week because of a lack of support for a bill that would have asked voters to legalize up to nine casinos in the state in a November referendum. The bill needed a 60 percent majority in each chamber to pass, but the legislation was not put to a floor vote in either.

Patrick Neely, the executive director of the racing lobbying group Kentucky Equine Education Project, said the group has not yet decided whether to wait until 2010 to lobby for legislation or to push the issue again in 2009 - either by lobbying for a 2010 referendum or a 2009 bill that could sidestep a public vote.

The Kentucky Equine Education Project's lobbying stance has been that subsidies from slot machines at racetracks in Illinois, West Virginia, and Indiana have damaged Kentucky's racing industry.

The failure of the legislation this year caught many racing officials by surprise because of Beshear's strong support for the issue during his successful election campaign last year. The issue was bogged down, however, by struggles between Democratic leaders in the state house, where support for casinos was measurably stronger than in the Republican-controlled senate.