- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A proposed ballot measure to let Kentucky voters decide whether to legalize casino gambling hasn’t garnered enough support yet to gain state Senate passage, a key supporter said Monday night.

Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Seum acknowledged he hasn’t lined up sufficient backing after emerging from a closed-door meeting of fellow Senate Republicans to discuss the hot-button issue.

Seum, a Louisville Republican, said he wasn’t giving up on his proposed constitutional amendment, with more than half of this year’s 60-day General Assembly session still left.

“At this point in time, I have no plans of putting it on the (Senate) floor, obviously, until I have the necessary votes to pass a constitutional amendment,” Seum told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said the “sentiment is not there” right now to pass it in the Senate.

As a proposed change to the state Constitution, the measure needs at least 23 supporting votes in the 38-member chamber. Thayer declined to say how close supporters were in their pursuit of votes.

The measure would go on this fall’s ballot if it cleared the Legislature.

A group pushing to put the issue on the ballot said the development shows more work needs to be done in promoting expanded gambling.

The issue has strong grassroots support, and now the task is to have that translate into support among lawmakers, said Elizabeth Post, a spokeswoman for the group Kentucky Wins.

“We feel that it is impossible now for the legislators in Frankfort to ignore all this groundswell of support throughout Kentucky,” she said.

Expanded gambling opponent Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said the proposal is on “life support.”

“Lawmakers realize that legalizing casinos is a bad idea because of the misery they’d bring to Kentucky,” he said in a statement. “They’re also aware that voting for casinos could very well cost them re-election because so many Kentuckians oppose the idea.”

Proposals to legalize casinos have been introduced in the GOP-led Senate and Democratic-run House.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear campaigned in support of expanded gambling as a revenue producer.

“If the governor wants it badly enough, he ought to go to the members of his own party in the chamber that they control and try to push the bill,” Thayer said.

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