A majority of Kentucky voters support slots at racetracks but an even larger number say voters, not state lawmakers, should have the final say on the issue, according to a new Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll. The automated phone survey, conducted Jan. 28-31 by SurveyUSA, shows that 59 percent of respondents favor slots at tracks while 37 percent oppose them. The margin of error on that question was plus or minus 4 percentage points.
This is the largest margin of support for gambling in a Bluegrass Poll since 2002.
However, 85 percent want the issue put to a vote rather than left to the General Assembly to implement; only 13 percent think the legislature should act unilaterally.
Gov. Steve Beshear included $780 million from expanded gambling in his two-year budget proposed last month but the measure was swiftly sidelined by Democrats and Republicans alike.
A separate bill, sponsored by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, that would put a constitutional amendment allowing slots on the ballot for November has been on hold in a Senate committee for lack of bipartisan support. Horse industry leaders have said they oppose the bill because it would not guarantee that casinos go to racetracks and because they would face expensive campaigns to win statewide and local approval.
While 64 percent of the poll’s respondents think gambling will help state revenue, respondents were more ambivalent on what they think expanded gambling would do for Kentucky’s horse industry, which is in economic trouble. Only 43 percent said slots would help the horse industry; 18 percent said expanded gambling would hurt and 37 percent said it would have no impact.
- Janet Patton