Thursday, February 12, 2004

Talks seek Ky. casino, racetrack compromise

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Legislation that would legalize casino gambling in Kentucky remains alive as casino advocates and the thoroughbred industry try to forge a compromise.

Industry leaders met Wednesday in Frankfort with Kentucky House President Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, but did not emerge with a bill, said Bob Elliston, president of Turfway Park in Florence.

The industry favors video slots and other electronic gaming at the state's race tracks - a concept known as "racinos"- as a way to compete with riverboat casinos in Indiana, Illinois and elsewhere.

Turfway's business is down about half since riverboat casinos began operating in southern Indiana in the mid-1990s.

While Clark has said he would consider filing a bill legalizing gambling, he favors allowing land-based casinos in Northern Kentucky and elsewhere, along with racinos at the tracks.

The horse industry had fought that concept, saying it already competed with casinos in other states.

"I think we made significant progress," Elliston said after emerging from the meeting. "We're continuing to have dialogue."

Elliston would not divulge any details of the meeting.

Clark couldn't be reached to comment.

The horse industry representatives were to meet Wednesday night to discuss the meeting and their next move, Elliston said.


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