Kentucky AG says constitutional referendum not needed to legalize slots at tracks
June 16, 2009
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway released an advisory opinion Monday that a constitutional referendum is unnecessary to legalize slot machines at state racetracks.
His opinion came on the first day of a special session of the Legislature called by Gov. Steve Beshear. A Senate bill legalizing slot machines at Kentucky’s racetracks that is supported by Beshear and the state’s Democratic leadership is expected to be introduced to the House during the session.
Previous opinions on whether a constitutional amendment is necessary to legalize slot machines at racetracks have been mixed. The opinion released Monday says that because the gaming machines would be operated under the auspices of the Kentucky Lottery Corporation, the amendment is not necessary because lottery-type games are legal under the Kentucky constitution. The opinion also cites other states, including West Virginia, Oregon and New York, that have permitted slot machines under similar constitutions.
Slot machine opponents contend that the games are an expansion of gambling and require approval through a public referendum. Under Kentucky’s constitution, referenda can only be offered in even-number years.
Opponents plan to rally against the current video slots legislation today in the Capitol Rotunda. Among those expected to participate are Dr. Hershael York, former president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Martin Cothran, spokesman for Say No To Casinos, Pastor Jeff Fugate of Clays Mill Road Baptist Church in Lexington, and Dr. Ivan Zabilka, president of Citizens Against Gambling Expansion (CAGE).
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