- Kentucky’s looming pension crisis prompts an interesting twist in election promises
- Attorney General Andy Beshear and Gubernatorial hopeful supports sports betting
- Legalizing wagers in KY to potentially help patch up the financial deficit
Beshear Jr., the current KY Attorney General, is running for the governor’s office on the promise to legalize sports betting and patch up the ailing pension finances of the state.
Steve Beshear Talks Legalizing Sports Betting in Kentucky
In 2015, former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, father of current Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear, did his absolute best to see the sports betting and gambling industries legalized. Beshear Sr.’s efforts have been futile and as he stepped out of office, little progress has been made on this front.
In the meantime, neighboring states, including West Virginia, Illinois, Ohio and soon Indiana, have made significant progress, legalizing their sports betting industries. This is precisely what Gubernatorial hopeful Beshear Jr. cites as one of its promises.
Should Kentucky vote for him, he will make it so that sports betting is legal. However, Beshear Jr. hasn’t lost touch with reality, and while understanding the stigma that goes hand-in-hand with gambling, he has made a strong case.
According to him, sports betting and gambling in general would allow Kentucky to patch up budget holes that risk leaving public servants without pensions. Beshear Jr. sees the iGaming and betting industries as a sure-fire way to raise enough money and secure retirement money for firefighters, social workers, police officers, and the state’s teachers.
His father, Beshear Sr. tried to legalize the industry during his stint as the state’s 61st governor. However, he found little support and his attempts eventually petered out before he had to leave office. Jr. on the other hand is walking in the steps of his father, and he is already readying up to legalize the industry – continuing as it is his father’s deed.
Matt Bevin Hasn’t Done Enough to Solve Pension Crisis
According to him, the current KY Gov., Matt Bevin, hasn’t done enough to address the issue of sports betting and how it can help boost the public purse. However, Gov. Bevin has remonstrated, arguing that gambling was linked to higher suicide rates, which put him against the industry in the first place.
Yet, Jr. had some solid figures to cite in his counter-argument, which didn’t necessarily focus on Gov. Bevin’s objection:
Estimates show that Kentucky loses over $500 million in tax revenue a year to neighboring states and less than ten casinos could generate over $1.7 billion in economic activity in their first year.
Jr. didn’t argue against the gambling-suicide link, but instead he ventured to fully highlight the economic windfall that Kentucky could be reaping. He argued that other states were already stealing economic opportunities from the state, with jobs and money going to places like West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana, as soon as the state legalized its own industry.
Andy Beshear has been following the same career trajectory as his father. Serving as the state’s Attorney General, he is on his way to becoming the next governor, if he manages to play his cards right.
Democrats hold a strong foothold in KY, but this doesn’t give Jr. an outright win. Choosing to talk about the state’s pension problem, however, is definitely what a successful candidate should be doing.
Meanwhile, since 2015 when Steve Beshear stepped out of office, there have been multiple efforts to legalize the industry, but none too successful. Former KY Gov. Julian Carroll pre-filed a bill for the upcoming 2020 legislative session.
With all that is happening, Kentucky is indeed one of the laggards when it comes to sports betting. Lawmakers will have to act quickly to make up for the time lost and hopefully help some of the revenue and job prospects specific to this debated segment return to the state.