Keene Files Bill to Allow Casinos to Generate Funds for Pensions

State Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) filed a bill in the Kentucky General Assembly that he says would bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the state.

Expanded gaming, he said, would help shore up Kentucky's ailing pension system. 

“It is no secret that casinos are already located along all of Kentucky’s borders, and those states are reaping the benefits of additional tax revenues, much of which are coming from our own citizens,” Keene said in a news release. “It is past time to let voters decide if Kentucky should have these expanded-gaming options here.  If approved, my legislation would set reasonable limits on where they’re located, while having a modified Kentucky Lottery Board oversee operations.”

House Bill 190 would allow up to four free-standing locations for casinos in Kentucky, with local voters having the opportunity to approve or deny them. Horse tracks, meanwhile, would have the ability to offer more limited gaming operations

The legislation would set aside much of the state’s proceeds for the next ten years to pay down the state’s public-retirement systems’ long-term liabilities, which total more than $40 billion.

“I believe casinos could generated hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue each and every year,” Keene said. “That would be a great step in the right direction toward decreasing our pension shortfall. At a time when no other serious revenue option is being considered, I cannot understand why we don’t at least give Kentuckians a chance to see if this is the direction they’d like us to go.”

Keene added that “without a designated revenue stream for our public-pension shortfall, Kentucky’s retirees will be asked to shoulder too much of the burden of making the pension system solid. Before we look at a plan that could curb public-retirement benefits, we should give my bill a chance.”

-Staff report