Politics
11:50 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Steve Beshear: Casino Bill is Dead for 2013, Unsure if Instant Racing Will Be Used to Fund Pensions

Steve Beshear
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Gov. Steve Beshear says he's a fan of Instant Racing for Kentucky's horse racing tracks—but he's not sure if legalizing the gambling format would be used to fund the state's struggling pension system.

Meanwhile, Beshear said casino gambling is not happening this year.

House Democratic leaders says they are looking at legalizing the slots-like game statewide to help generate at least $25 million a year to help fully fund pension obligations. Only two tracks, Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs, currently have the game.

Beshear did not commit fully to the idea, but said he will not allow lawmakers to ask for budget cuts in 2014 to help pay for pensions.

He praised House Speaker Greg Stumbo for floating ideas for pension funding.

"I appreciate the speaker trying to look at different kinds of solutions," Beshear said. "I don't know if that will work or if others will work, but at least there's conversation going on."

Beshear added that casino gambling wouldn't be an issue anymore in the 2013 session, since deadlines to file new bills had passed.

"Well, from what I can tell the casino issue is not going to move anywhere this session and you know it can't move anywhere in a special session because it's a constitutional amendment. So I don't see that as being part of this discussion at this point," Beshear says.

House leaders have also suggested raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products for revenue to help fully pay for pensions. 

The Kentucky Supreme Court is also hearing a case on Instant Racing soon.