Let the people decide

Chamber President Dave Adkisson announced the Kentucky Alliance for Jobs on February 9, 2012, a broad-based coalition of business, labor unions, teachers, local governments, horsemen and other Kentuckians that support a constitutional amendment on gaming. The coalition believes a constitutional amendment on gaming should be on the ballot this November, thus allowing citizens of the Commonwealth the opportunity to vote on allowing casinos at race tracks and other locations.

The Chamber has had a long-standing policy in favor of expanded gaming, based on a solid majority of its members expressing that preference in its annual policy survey. The Chamber’s Executive Committee met to discuss this issue and directed the Chamber to play a leadership role in the 30-plus member alliance.

“This alliance represents the broadest coalition to unite behind a major piece of public policy in Frankfort in more than a decade. And the broad show of support by this alliance is only surpassed by the even broader desire by the public to vote on this issue,” Adkisson said.

According to a statewide poll conducted in December 2011 by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, nearly 9 out of 10 Kentuckians want the ability to vote on the issue of casino gaming.   The poll showed that Kentuckians, regardless of their position for or against casino gaming, overwhelmingly favor by 87 percent to 10 percent the state legislature approving a vote of the people through a proposed constitutional amendment to allow casino gaming at racetracks in Kentucky.   A poll conducted by the Republican Party of Kentucky around the same time likewise found that 80 percent of Kentuckians overwhelmingly think the issue of expanded gambling should be decided by a vote of the people.

In January the Kentucky Chamber released preliminary findings from a statewide study commissioned by a partnership of Kentucky horse industry interests. The study, conducted by the independent research firm Spectrum Gaming Group, showed the economic impact of adding casino-style gaming at eight Kentucky racetrack locations would produce $1.7 billion dollars of economic impact during the first full year of casino operations, resulting in a net gain of approximately 11,000 full-time jobs paying $290 million in wages annually.

The Kentucky Gaming Market Analysis and Impacts Report was completed in  December 2011 by Spectrum Gaming Group, based in Linwood, N.J., and projects:

– 10,953 full-time jobs directly tied to casino operations with a payroll of $289.3 million;

– 4,297 full-time construction jobs over an estimated 30-month build-out

period with a payroll of $338 million;

– $1.14 billion in gross gaming revenue;

– $464.7 million in gaming tax revenue and $541.3 million in total Kentucky tax receipts (totals include funds for horse racing industry programs).

“Expanded gaming is not only about protecting Kentucky’s signature horse industry, it is a way to generate substantial investment and job growth in the Commonwealth,” said Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber. “This study shows we have an opportunity to not only stem job losses, but also to expand and grow them within our borders by recapturing economic activity from other states. Expanded gaming is an appropriate response to other states’ assault on our signature industry.”

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