Frankfort, KY: Rep. Dennis Keene, (D-Wilder), announced today that he has pre-filed legislation that would establish a process by which casino gaming may be brought into Kentucky in a controlled way.
The bill would place the oversight of casino gaming with the Kentucky Lottery Corporation, an agency with a long history of overseeing games of chance. It would limit the locations at which a casino may be located to either counties with a population of 90,000 or more, or cities of the fourth class or greater that already have a horse racing track located within the city.
“I believe that this process would allow residents who live in communities that have live horse racing to decide if they want casino gaming,” said Rep. Keene. “This gives them that decision-making power.”
Even in these limited locations, before a casino may be approved in those areas, a local option election must be held to get the sense of the people before the casino licensing process is allowed to go forward. The election may be placed on the ballot either as a result of a local ordinance, or by a petition signed by a number of people equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last general election.
“Once the voters have spoken and approved casino gaming in their location, the Lottery Corporation conducts the bidding process for casinos,” said Rep. Keene. “If a county approves full casino gaming, the initial licensing fee is $50 million. The initial license will be an exclusive license for the first 10 years.”
Other details of the bill include:
- An annual license renewal fee of $6 million. If a city of the fourth class containing a horse racing track approves the ballot initiative, the track may be licensed for limited or full casino gaming. If the track chooses limited casino gaming it would only be licensed for slot machines or other electronic games of chance.
- Tracks would still be required to pay the $50 million initial license fee, but yearly renewals would be only $25,000. If the track subsequently decided to expand to full casino gaming, the initial licensing fee would be applied to the full casino license and the track would only have to pay the $6 million annual renewal fee.
- Tracks licensed for casino gaming of any sort would have to continue to run as many races as they did in 2011 to maintain their casino license.
- In addition to the licensing of casinos, the Lottery Corporation would also license casino equipment suppliers, manufacturers, and professions within the Kentucky casino industry that the corporation determines warrant licensure.
- No person could sell, lease, or otherwise furnish gaming supplies and equipment in the Commonwealth unless they have a valid license issued by the Lottery Corporation.
- No person under 21 years of age will be allowed to place a wager on a game at a casino, nor will anyone under 21 be permitted access to areas of a casino where games are operated.
- The tax imposed on casinos will be 31% of each licensee’s gross gaming revenue. Gross gaming revenue is defined as the amount wagered, less the amount paid out in winnings to players.
- Proceeds from the casino tax will be used to fund a Problem Gamblers Awareness and Treatment Fund (to a maximum amount of $2.5 million per year) and the operations of the Lottery Corporation devoted to the oversight and licensing of casino gaming.
- The remainder of the funds shall be divided equally between childhood education (primary, kindergarten, and elementary education); funding the Kentucky Employees Retirement Fund; and for use in job creation and economic development in Kentucky.
“In addition, 15% of each gaming licensee’s gross gaming revenue is to be allocated to the Kentucky Equine Industry Enhancement Fund, a fund to be overseen by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for the benefit of the equine industry throughout Kentucky including purse supplements, breeder incentive funds, and backside improvements,” said Rep. Keene.
Additional language in the bill:
- 10% of the fund is to be dedicated to non-racing breeds.
- There is also a $3 per person admission tax imposed on casinos. The proceeds of the admission tax shall be dedicated to a regional tourism and infrastructure development fund established by the bill.
- The fund is established to promote tourism in regions containing a casino, to provide public protection, and to develop infrastructure projects designed to ease the burden of increased tourist activity in regions containing a casino. Projects to be included shall be within 30 miles of a casino and designed to incorporate multiple units of local government.
“I believe this legislation would help move this issue to the forefront and the discussions, arguments, and posturing can finally end,” said Rep. Keene. “For too long, casino gaming has been used as a political football and my bill would allow the people who would be most affected by this issue to make the final decision.”