Frankfort, KY—Taking a bold step towards addressing the pension shortfall, Representatives Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) and Rick Rand (D-Bedford) have pre-filed legislation today that will bring hundreds of millions of dollars into Kentucky through expanded gaming. To be overseen by an expanded Kentucky Lottery Board, the gaming legislation calls for a constitutional amendment to be voted upon by Kentuckians that open the door for local-option casinos in up to ten facilities across the Commonwealth.
“Casinos are already located along all of Kentucky’s borders and those states are reaping the benefits of additional tax revenues,” said Representative and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dennis Keene. “Kentucky’s lottery gambling is highly successful and by expanding existing gaming venues to allow for casino-type games, we will grow a new revenue source to help us catch up on the pension shortfall.”
Former A&R Chairman, Representative Rick Rand has stated that once fully operational, casino tax revenue could be as high as $500 million over the biennium. “Based upon actuarial assumptions, and looking at revenue generated from our neighboring states, this could be a windfall for Kentucky,” said Rep. Rick Rand. “Initial license fees for casinos would generate one-time $325 million in fees followed by $236 million annually. That would be a great step in the right direction towards decreasing our pension shortfall.”
Both Representatives Keene and Rand believe that without a designated revenue stream to address the $33 billion public pension shortfall, Kentucky’s retirees will be asked to shoulder too much of the burden of making the pension system solid. “Before we look at a plan that involves cuts to retirees’ benefits, we have opportunities to being new revenue that will be designated to the pension fund,” said Rep. Keene.
“The uncertainty in the pension system at this time is leading to a mass exodus of experienced teachers, state police officers and state and county workers who will flood the retirement system,” said Rep. Rick Rand. “Do voters want to allow the new revenue from expanding gaming to build the pension fund or would they rather have cuts made on the backs of the state’s over 100,000 retirees? It’s time to put the gaming issue on the ballot so the public can have their say on this issue.”
The gaming legislation includes the following:
- The Kentucky Lottery Corporation will oversee and administer expanded gaming;
- Casinos will be limited to no more than four free-standing to be located in precincts that approve the conduct of expanded gaming and to horse racing tracks that already conduct pari-mutuel wagering, which shall not be allowed to conduct electronic games, but shall not be allowed full casino gaming;
- Participation in expanded gaming shall be limited to any person 21 years of age and older.