Casinos on the horizon?

FRANKFORT, March 4 -- Rep. Rob Wiederstein, D-Henderson, (left) speaks with Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, in the House.

State Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, prefiled a bill for the 2020 session of the Kentucky General Assembly that would allow casinos in the commonwealth.

Bill Request 80 would limit licenses to four free-standing casinos in precincts that approve expanded gaming and would allow expanded electronic games at horse tracks that already conduct pari-mutuel wagering, including Churchill Downs in Louisville and Keeneland Race Course in Lexington. Tracks would not be allowed full casinos.

Keene’s bill says the “budget difficulties being experienced by the Commonwealth” are driving this legislation, and casinos would “generate revenue, enhance the Kentucky tourism industry to draw in revenue from outside the state, and create new entertainment options for the citizens of the state.”

BR 80 specifies a board comprised of the state auditor, the state treasurer, the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and nine others appointed by the governor would oversee the industry. One of the governor’s appointees must be a certified peace officer with expertise in “theft, embezzlement, money laundering, financial fraud, or criminal syndication and organized crime.”