Expanded Gaming Proposed for Kentucky Racetracks

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"I got hooked on gambling one time when I was a young man. So I know how it is."

That's why Clem "Dickie" Carter is against expanded gaming in Kentucky. He and others on Logan County Fiscal Court want to send a letter to state legislature against the issue.

You may have seen ads like these that encourage Kentuckians to keep their gambling dollars in state. Jim Navolio is the executive director of the Kentucky Equine Education Project, or KEEP.

Navolio says: "We know that there are 566,000 Kentucky residents that go to those casinos four times a year or more. And they spend an astronomical amount of money in Indiana and Illinois to the tune of $671 million."

KEEP is proposing that all racetracks in Kentucky be permitted to erect full casinos, thereby keeping money in the horse industry and in Kentucky. They say by doing that Kentucky could generate up to $437 million annually in tax revenues for the state.

Navolio says: "Full casinos are actually tourist destinations so there will be income derived from the tourism destination in addition to the tax."

KEEP says they would use that money to go toward education.

That's still not enough to sway Carter. He says: "If people want to go to Indiana to gamble that's fine. But if we had a casino here that would be a lot more people to gamble than if you had to go to Indiana. So I'd rather let them go to Indiana and we will be better off in Kentucky I think."

Proponents of KEEP say they only want to see gaming expanded to existing racetracks and not further proliferated. They will present the full argument during the 2006 session of the General Assembly.