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Indiana, Kentucky in tug of war over Bluegrass gamblers

October 20, 2009

Kentucky residents who wager are being pulled back and forth by their home state and Indiana.

One of the biggest arguments for allowing expanded gambling and casinos in Kentucky was the homegrown dollars that were being spent at slot machines and poker tables outside the Bluegrass State.

Proponents estimated that more than $1 billion was being spent by Kentuckians at gambling operations outside the state, which would translate into about $350 million in lost state revenue.

Now Indiana, which has seen its take from lottery and gambling proceeds decline drastically, is weighing the impact of Kentucky gamblers on their own coffers.

Lesley Stedman Weidenbener with the Louisville Courier-Journal reports that a new study by the Indiana Legislative Services Agency estimates that if casinos open in Louisville and Lexington, Indiana stands to lose at least $250 million in annual revenue.

Reporter Eric Bradner with the Evansville Courier-Press talked to the operators of the Casino Aztar in Evansville about the potential impact there if Kentucky got casinos.

From the Courier-Press article

Among those in jeopardy is Casino Aztar, since some Kentucky lawmakers are pushing for a full casino ā€” or at least slot machines ā€” at Ellis Park.

Most patrons tend to come from within a 50-mile radius of a casino’s location, Landers said. Because 38 percent of Aztar’s surrounding area consists of Kentucky residents, Ellis Park could become a more convenient attraction.

If that happens, he said Aztar could lose around one-fifth of its admissions.

“A casino at Ellis Park would certainly be impactful,” said Tom Dingman, who is managing Aztar as its owners, Tropicana Entertainment LLC, attempts to emerge from bankruptcy.

That news comes as Bill Farish, a prominent proponent of expanded gambling, told media outlets Monday that Republican leaders in the Kentucky Senate are preparing to back a bill next year that would put the gambling issue to voters as a constitutional amendment in 2010.

“It appears that Senate Republicans are beginning to feel the heat from their constituents,” Farish, general manager of Lane’s End Farm in Woodford County, said in the letter, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

A spokeswoman for Senate Republican leadership denied the claim.

Seems like the back and forth over which government can get their hands on the dollars spent by Kentucky gamblers continues.

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