A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Governor candidates Bevin and Beshear don’t agree on expanded gaming, marijuana legalization

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Expanded gaming, including legalizing casinos and sports wagering, is likely to come up again during the 2020 General Assembly, but how hard it will be pushed depends on who wins the Governor’s race this November.

Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, sponsored a bill during this year’s session to legalize sports wagering, but it did not receive a committee hearing in the Senate. He is proposing similar legislation for 2020.

Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, was joined by 20 co-sponsors in a bill during the 2019 session that would allow betting on sports contests, internet poker and fantasy sports contests. It won unanimous approval from the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee, but was never brought up for a vote on the House floor. Thus far, he has not yet proposed similar legislation for 2020. (Editor’s Note: Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg just announced the grand opening of its new Sportsbook, where you can place a bet on your favorite sport.)

Gubernatorial candidates, Matt Bevin and Andy Beshear, have different ideas on expanded gaming. (Kentucky Today file photos)

Rep. Al Gentry, D-Louisville, introduced a proposed Constitutional Amendment providing for casino gambling, which was never heard in a House committee. That was the same story for casino legislation sponsored by Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder. Keene is proposing similar legislation for the 2020 session.

Most of the bills would earmark at least a portion of proceeds to address the unfunded liability of Kentucky’s public pension systems.

As expected, Kentucky’s Republican and Democratic Gubernatorial candidates find themselves lining up on opposite sides of the issue.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has often said he supports expanded gaming.

“Kentucky can’t afford to fall behind our neighboring states who are moving forward with the rest of the country on expanded gaming,” Beshear said. “We lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars a year. As governor, I will work to legalize sports betting, casinos, fantasy sports and prepare for online poker, and use the revenue from these activities as a dedicated funding stream for our public pension system.”

Beshear also says he would support a Constitutional Amendment legalizing medical marijuana.

“I would vote for it because I’ve seen the impact opioids have had on every Kentucky community. So many Kentucky families have seen a loved one fall into addiction, and their lives have been devastated. If medical marijuana is an alternative and gives people the chance to get pain relief without being subjected to opioids, I think it’s something we’ve got to explore.”

Republican incumbent Matt Bevin said during a recent radio interview that he opposes both expanded gaming and legalizing marijuana.

“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. Families are ruined, lives are ruined. There is a societal cost, and there is no political appetite for this in Kentucky.”

Even if there were no negatives with casino gambling, Bevin said the math doesn’t work there.

“The idea that we could make maybe $200 million a year with casino gambling taxes, means there are billions being spent that might better be spent somewhere else,” Bevin said.

“If we all wanted to gamble and smoke pot at the same time, it would still be 200 years, just to earn the money we already owe today. These are not serious solutions.”

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  1. BrianKY says:

    Bevin is so far out of the mainstream on both of these and it’s all on religious grounds. I’m an R. I voted Bevin. I’m not voting for him this time around b/c he chose Ralph Alvarado who is a liar and a terrible human and terrible doctor over his awesome current LtGov Hampton. I’m now also not voting for him b/c he opposes these reasonable measures for KY. His comment that “somewhere in America, someone kills themselves every night in a casino” is utter tripe. He’s done some good things for KY, but he’s off on this badly.

  2. Ernest Agee says:

    I am not going to vote for Bevin because recreational marijuana is not legalized.

  3. Vote for Hicks-Cormican for Kentucky Governor Slate. They should have been included in this specific news article. A correction should be made to fix the omission or exclusion.

    Full Cannabis Legalization

    Families should live free from fear.

    Medical & Recreational

    Full legalization of medical and recreational cannabis for adult personal use, distribution, and growing. Avoid the mistakes of the 3-tier alcohol model that restricts freedom.

    Expunge Records

    Follow the Illinois model to automatically give clemency for cannabis convictions for people who were non-violent. If they are peaceful people that didn’t physically hurt others or police, it’s time to reintegrate them into society.

    Colorado Tax Model

    Kentucky’s budget has $37 billion in unfunded liabilities over the next decades. Colorado has been able to raise $1 billion in Cannabis revenue. They achieved this with a 15% excise tax on the sale of marijuana from a cultivator to a retailer. In addition, Colorado has a 15% sales tax on retail sales to customers.

  4. Chris says:

    Vote Hicks/Cormican for Kentucky, choose freedom!


  5. Onna Keys says:

    Bevin got in on LIES and now won’t do what he said… it’s directly HURT me as a disabled ppl in crippling pain and with a daughter that’s an early childhood educator … worked for Community Action, training teachers and helping parents.. children that would had such quality care who were either poor or disabled.. or had parents NOT RICH like HIM!

    Oh he said he’d legalize medical marijuana when he got elected… it’s an herb God gave us w NO withdrawals or deaths… oh no it’s not for the young but I guess LEGAL ALCOHOL (bourbon) and cigarettes known to KILL are… $$$$ taxes!

    I worked since before 16, but paid taxes 16-my 50s w 8/9 years college and got hurt w I almost had my MASTERS and worked 35 years in the medical field.. oh no I can’t get food stamps here… or use the one herb helps me!

    When he cut funds for early childhood my daughter had FATAL inflammatory breast cancer… rare no lumps killer hit her w only 36 w 2 small children and those jobs were all she could eventually do having harsh chemo radiation and her breasts cut off and 14 lymph nodes… so omg than you dumbass!

    I had pay more for my meds being on Kentucky medicaid cause you cut it too!!! We are an education working family and KENTUCKY ppl a lifetime!

    You’ve ran such a dirty campaign it’s sicken me more !
    I PRAY you lose… many are leaving Kentucky to quality health care, housing and to be treated right… like the governor’s of OHIO and MICHIGAN do!!!

    Go back where you cane from or up lying rich Narcissistic Trumps coattail in Washington… my bio Dad and uncles worked at the Pentagon
    I know how the is and know the dirt on McConnell before he left Kentucky to Washington DC
    It’s so sad how you’ve HURT Kentucky.. oh except the rich ones!

    Another thing… even at the dog groomer, I had pay $5 more plus taxes because WE the ppl of Kentucky are paying the teachers pensions w taxes hit ALL small businesses because of you! You think ppl here are stupid?

    I’m a preachers daughter and your the devil
    I pray night and day you LOSE in the name of the Father Son and Holy Ghost!

  6. Sam says:

    Matt Bevin needs to wake up and realize that this isnt the 1990’s anymore. Just bc he believes that marijuana and gambling are bad doesnt mean other people believe the same thing. Wheres our rights and freedoms?

  7. Chris Owen says:

    Bevin’s is a stain on the potential BOOMM in ky economy Trump is doing amazing support him 100%. Beshear can’t possibly do worse. Legalize least medical marijuana stop pumping money into the pharmaceuticals.This is my only one reason I helped to vote him out. Hes no longer working for the people of Kentucky he’s working A: For himself or B: Pharmaceuticals

  8. Tom says:

    I voted for Beshear because of marijuana, Kentucky need to catch up with the nation .

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