Party-line vote killed legislation to authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks

A party-line vote in the Republican-dominated Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee has killed legislation to authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks in Kentucky.

The vote, held earlier this week, was 10-5, with one abstention.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and scheduled for consideration during the current special legislative session by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. Stumbo was on hand when the Senate committee voted, and afterward said the bill didn’t get a full hearing, referring to his desire for a vote on the Senate floor.

The speaker, however, said he believes a constitutional amendment isn’t necessary for racetrack VLTs and said the measure could resurface during a conference committee if the House and Senate fail to agree on a budget plan during the special session, which began June 15.

The House budget proposal includes a plan to build new schools with revenue from VLTs. The Senate, however, is expected to reject it in light of the committee vote.

Keeneland racetrack President Nick Nicholson, who made a presentation before the Senate committee, said he’s “disappointed”.

“We really want to thank the speaker and governor for their courage and realizing the importance of our industry,” Nicholson, who serves as the horse industry’s spokesman, told The Blood-Horse magazine. “We’re not going to go away. This is not the last you’ve heard on this issue.”

“I’m depressed,” said Joe Costa, president of The Red Mile harness track in Lexington. “The governor showed great leadership, the speaker showed great leadership, and 52 members of the House voted for [the legislation]. We would have loved the opportunity for a full Senate vote, because we believe the votes were there on the floor.”