Kentucky Gubernatorial Candidate Andy Beshear Follows Father’s Footsteps, Wants Commercial Casinos

Posted on: April 19, 2019, 11:08h. 

Last updated on: April 19, 2019, 11:08h.

Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear (D) believes the path to the state’s economic prosperity runs through a casino floor.

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear casinos
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear wants to bring casinos to the state. (Image: Bac Totrong/AP)

The state’s current attorney general, Beshear is one of four Democrats vying to run against incumbent and presumed Republican candidate Governor Matt Bevin (R) in this year’s election. Asked this week about how the state might fix its dire public pension system, Beshear pointed to casinos.

I’m for expanded gaming, and it’s time we get it done,” Beshear declared. The state politician said he supports commercial casinos, and the introduction of sports betting.

Beshear says public and political opinion would change regarding casino gambling if the law earmarks the revenue for the pension crisis. “What they’ve never done is tie 100 percent of the proceeds of expanded gaming to our pension system, he concluded.

Kentucky is home to several parimutuel horse racetrack gaming venues, the most notable being Churchill Downs – host to next month’s Kentucky Derby. The Bluegrass State also permits historical racing machines, slot-like devices that allow players to wager on previously run races.

Standing Out From Crowd

Beshear is hoping his support of casinos will lead to increased support. It’s a path his father Steve Beshear – the 61st governor of Kentucky – also took, though casino legalization never became a reality.

A poll conducted late last year by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found that Beshear would win against Bevin 48 percent to 40 percent. Thirty-one percent of poll respondents said they have a “favorable” opinion of the attorney general, 23 percent said “unfavorable,” and 39 percent said “neutral.”

When it comes to casinos, Beshear’s stance has plenty of detractors.

“To talk about an unrealistic proposal that he knows doesn’t have a chance passing, I think, is not being truthful to the people of Kentucky,” state House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D) told the Associated Press.

Bevin’s campaign manager added, “Voters won’t roll the dice” on such suggestions as Beshear’s.

Support Growing

Despite the longstanding opposition to casinos across Kentucky, supporters like Beshear seem to be increasing. The state remains one of just 10 in the US that doesn’t have commercial or tribal casinos.

Former Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen explained, “We have to be careful not to just make promises to people because they’re easily consumed. Expanded gaming is a no-brainer, but we haven’t been able to get it done in Kentucky. And putting all our eggs in that basket seems … to be an irresponsible gamble.”

Edelen voiced his concerns, but added that allowing casinos to come to Kentucky is the “right thing” to do.

Gambling isn’t a cure-all solution to the pension problem. The current retirement system is facing $39 billion in unfunded liabilities in the coming years. Beshear estimates casinos could deliver the state $546 million in annual tax revenue.

In the interim, a sports betting bill that would allow oddsmakers to set up shop at the racetracks passed a House committee last month. However, the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned its 2019 Regular Session without voting on the measure.