Saturday, November 9, 2002

Tracks don't have lock on casinos

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Kentucky's horse racing tracks apparently will have to fight for a place in a future casino industry, if there is one.

Legislative leaders this week indicated that the General Assembly is not inclined to give tracks an exclusive casino franchise, as would have happened under a gaming bill introduced but not enacted earlier this year.

Track owners say they already are in the gambling business, so tracks are the logical sites for casinos, should the General Assembly make them legal.

But some other enterprises, including the Executive Inn in Owensboro, also have exhibited keen interest in having casinos. And legislators will have a budget crisis to deal with when they return to the Capitol in January.

"We have to see which venue would give us the most revenue," Rep. Larry Clark, speaker pro tem of the House, said Thursday.

Rep. Jim Callahan, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, sponsored the bill that would have legalized casinos, restricted them to race tracks and would have provided for a division of profits with the state. Mr. Callahan said tracks now would have to make the best offer.

Turfway Park was among the tracks supporting the bill, proposing a multi-million-dollar casino-facility and hotel next to it about 10 miles from downtown Cincinnati.

Developers Jerry Carroll and Bill Butler are currently working with the city of Covington to develop a plan for a casino complex on the last undeveloped 10 acres of Northern Kentucky Riverfront, just across from Paul Brown Stadium.

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