Attorney General Calls for Major Gambling Expansion in Kentucky

  • Kentucky Attorney General Beshear pushing for extensive expansion of gambling sector
  • Currently, only state lottery and horse race betting are legal
  • Beshear says nearby states will continue to suck money out of local economy if nothing is done
  • He believes $1.7bn in economic activity could be generated in year one of expansion
skyline of louisville kentucky at night
Kentucky Attorney General Beshear is pushing for a full expansion of gambling in the state, which he claims will generate $1.7bn in economic activity. [Image:]

A long time coming

Andy Beshear, a key political figure in Kentucky, is calling for the expansion of the state’s conservative gambling sector. Kentucky is one of the few states that does not have much of a gambling presence. Most forms of gambling are illegal, except for the state lottery and horse race betting. 

there could be $1.7bn worth of economic activity generated 

Kentucky Attorney General Beshear, who is looking to secure the position of governor in the next election, has said he is in full support of all forms of gambling. This includes legal sports betting and commercial casinos. He believes that gambling expansion could be vital for boosting the state’s economy. 

According to Beshear’s estimates, in just the first year of gambling expansion in the state, there could be $1.7bn worth of economic activity generated. If there is no expansion, residents will cross over state lines and place their bets elsewhere. This will take more money out of the local economy, and the state government will lose out on potential tax revenue. 

Residents go out of state

There are currently two gambling facilities just across the Kentucky border with Indiana. These are the Horseshoe Southern Indiana and the Winner’s Circle Off-track Betting Parlor. Both establishments are a mere 15-minute car journey from Louisville. It is thought that these venues will benefit from the restrictive gambling sector in Kentucky if no change is made.

There are millions of dollars’ worth of tax revenue that could become almost instantly available to the Kentucky state government if expansion happens. 

Green shoots appearing

Speaking about the state’s prospects within the gambling sector, Beshear added that

Expanded gaming is a long-overdue and common-sense way to make Kentucky more competitive.”

He also believes it is an ideal way to protect the pensions of first responders and teachers in the state. With Kentucky’s public pension schemes in trouble and significant shortfalls expected in the coming years, there is currently a lot of talk about how to significantly increase state revenue. 

Just ten states in the country do not have any type of casino facilities. There are seven states bordering the Bluegrass state, with only Tennessee and Virginia not having any casinos. 

Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio all have casinos which are extremely close to Kentucky state lines. This makes them extremely accessible for Kentucky residents to go across state lines to gamble. 

Opposition still exists

While there are positive signs for gambling expansion in Kentucky, there have been similar attempts over the past decade that have not been a success. 

Most proposed bills have been defeated almost instantly. One of the main reasons for the opposition is the fear that the state’s large horse racing sector will be negatively affected by gambling expansion. The state receives over $300m in tax revenue annually from horse racing alone.

The current governor, Republican Matt Bevin, is against any form of gambling expansion. He believes there are too many societal costs to an open gambling sector. 

Bevin controversially spoke about the issue on a local radio show. He said: “Every night somewhere in America, somebody takes their life in a casino because they’ve wasted the last semblance of dignity and hope that they had.”

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