Saturday, May 22, 1999

Caution made on new betting

Lottery board told to get OK

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — A state legislative committee has told the Kentucky Lottery Board that it should not expand into casino-style games without approval of the legislature and the state's voters.

        The Small Business Regulation Subcommittee of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism passed a resolution this week saying any expansion of gaming offered by the lottery should be deferred until the 2000 General Assembly session begins in January.

        The Lottery Board released a study this week saying it could generate $600 million a year through video poker games installed at retail outlets around the state.

        Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, a committee member, said the resolution was passed because lawmakers fear the lottery could expand the games it offers through regulations and without legislative approval.

        Mr. Fischer said the resolution carries no force of law.

        “But it's an indication of our intent that any potential effort to expand the lottery's game must first be approved by the legislature, and the approved by the citizens,” he said.

        Lottery officials could not be reached to comment.

        A 1993 Attorney General's opinion also states that the lottery cannot be expanded without legislative and citizen approval.

        “But that doesn't have the force of law, either,” Mr. Fischer said.

        “We felt it was important to let the Lottery Board know that the legislature deserves to be heard on this issue,” he said. “Then the people under the terms of the constitution are entitled to their point of view.”

        The legislative intent is “clear that there is a differentiation of powers and that only the legislature can approve any further expansion of the lottery,” said Rep. Chris Ratliff, R-Pikeville.

        Several members of the committee said that expanding the lottery could result in an undue burden on the poor.

        Sen. Dan Seum, D-Louisville, said the resolution will be sent to the House and Senate State Government Committees for their ratification, and then sent to Lottery Board and Gov. Paul Patton.

        Mr. Patton has recently raised the issue of having the legislature and the citizens consider and vote on allowing casino gambling as way to raise more money for the state.

        Mr. Fischer said neither he nor his constituents support casino gambling in Kentucky.


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