FRANKFORT — House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, prefiled two bills Wednesday to expand gambling in Kentucky.
One of his measures calls for a constitutional amendment to let Kentucky voters decide in November 2014 whether they want casino gambling in the state. The other bill outlines a plan to license and regulate casino gambling at five horse racetracks and three standalone casinos.
Clark's proposal comes on the heels of an effort by a pro-casino group named "Kentucky Wins!" to push for a constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Kentucky. The Kentucky School Boards Association announced Wednesday that it backs "Kentucky Wins!"
The Kentucky legislature has debated expanded gambling for more than 20 years. It appears the issue will be on the front burner again in the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly that begins in January.
Clark, who has worked on casino legislation for 20 years, said his plan adopts the best parts from previous attempts.
The legislation could generate $286 million a year for the state, Clark said.
"This legislation will create a new revenue source to support education, stabilize public pensions, boost local cities and county governments and provide more treatment options for gambling and substance addiction," Clark said in a news release. "At the same time, we will protect our signature equine industry, a crucial component of Kentucky's agriculture economy."
Louisville attorney Ed Glasscock, who is a co-chairman of Kentucky Wins!, said he has not yet had time to review details of Clark's legislation but is "pleased the Speaker Pro Tem has filed such legislation."
Glasscock said he looks forward to talking to Clark about expanded gambling.
"The money for the state certainly is needed," he said.
If Clark's proposed constitutional amendment passes in the 2014 election, the enabling legislation would take effect in late 2014, he said. That would result in the award of licenses and generation of gambling revenue for the state in 2015.
Clark's plan calls for the creation of a Kentucky Gaming Commission to issue licenses and regulate gaming facilities.
State revenue generated from gambling would be distributed as follows: 50 percent for education, 10 percent for stabilization of public pensions, 25 percent to the state General Fund, 4 percent for municipal public safety, 4 percent for drug and alcohol treatment, 4 percent for county public safety, 3 percent to locales that have expanded gambling to pay for safety and security, and 0.15 percent of adjusted gambling revenue, up to $2 million a year, to a Compulsive Gamblers Assistance fund.
Additionally, tracks holding gambling licenses would be required to set aside 14.5 percent of adjusted gambling revenue for purses and other racing and breeding interests.
Clark said "one of the biggest goals" of his plan is to increase track purse awards to provide a year-round racing circuit.
The legislation would require tracks to increase the number of live races by 10 percent during first five years they are licensed to conduct casino gambling.