David Williams and his opponent for governor, incumbent Democrat Steve Beshear, squared off in the same room at a Kentucky Farm Bureau forum Wednesday. Several issues were thrown around but the biggest news concerning the gambling industry was Williams’ assertion that there are enough votes in the state Senate to pass a constitutional amendment on expanded gambling.
Williams has consistently opposed expanded gambling, saying he’s not opposed on moral grounds but thinks it’s “bad public policy.” But on Wednesday, Williams acknowledged the support for expanded gambling.
“I believe there are the votes in the state Senate to put it on the ballot,” Williams said. “I’m not one of them” Williams said according to the Richmond Register.
Williams has challenged Beshear to formulate an amendment that can pass the General Assembly.
Beshear made expanded gambling a cornerstone of his 2007 campaign platform, and felt at the time that the people of Kentucky should decide the issue and promised to get it passed. Beshear, like many other gambling proponents, has always felt it’s necessary to prop up the horse industry, but despite his sound logic, the General Assembly has twice failed to pass an expanded gambling measure.
A constitutional amendment failed to pass the Democratic-controlled House in 2008 and the Senate refused to pass a bill to allow video lottery terminals at existing race tracks passed by the House and backed by Beshear in a subsequent session.
Beshear has blamed Williams for failure to pass the measure. The edge that Beshear may have in this election may hang on how his stance on gambling expansion is presented. Beshear has always made his campaign focus on creating new jobs and balancing the budget, gambling expansion facilitates in both those initiatives.