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Beshear's Second Term Could Bring Expanded Gambling In Kentucky

Governor Steve Beshear came on to the national political scene during his first term as Governor of Kentucky with many believing the governor was against gambling. That theory came from those within the online gaming industry, after Beshear attempted to seize the domain names of 141 online gambling sites.

The prevailing thought at the time was that Beshear was playing the role of high and mighty, and was using his power to show that gambling did not belong in Kentucky. On the contrary, the governor's motive was keeping outside gaming companies from taking gambling money that could have been staying in Kentucky.

With his second term beginning this week after winning re-election, Beshear made his point loud and clear that in the second term, the governor would like to see gambling expansion become a priority. Beshear called for the Senate to take the lead on gambling expansion in 2012.

In recent years it has been the Republican-led Senate that has killed several gambling expansion measures. That is why Beshear believes the only way for gambling expansion to take place is for the bill to originate in the Senate, and then move along to the more gambling-friendly House. It is an approach that some believe will backfire.

"I don't see how the Senate, which has been opposed to gambling expansion, will suddenly change their course on the issue," said Kentucky resident Paul Peterson. "Te only way that we get more gambling is if we vote for it. Then maybe the lawmakers will listen to what we want."

That actually may be the way that Beshear gets gambling expanded. The governor has suggested that he may introduce a constitutional amendment for voters to decide the issue. If the voters approved the measure, it would then be up to lawmakers to come up with the specifics of how gambling would be expanded.

The most likely scenario, and the one that has been talked about the most, is allowing slot machines at state race tracks. Churchill Downs hosts horse racing's biggest event, the Kentucky Derby, and analysts believe that if the track had slots, it would generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year in additional revenue.

Senate President David Williams is not entirely opposed to gambling expansion, and he is taking a wait and see approach to Beshear's new call to action on the gambling issue. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a proponent of bringing slots to Kentucky tracks, also believes that the Senate must spearhead the drive for a gambling bill.

Part of the desire of expanding gambling is the job creation that would accompany any expansion. Thousands of jobs would be created, and bringing new employment opportunities is one of Beshear's main focuses going into his second term as Kentucky's governor.

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