As some observers have expected, the controversial gambling bill by Kentucky Governor Beshear generated a large amount of protest from various groups.
The protests began Tuesday as the bill was being discussed by the General Council. Supporters of the bill, on the other hand, gathered on Wednesday at the Capitol steps.
The anti-gambling bill rally was able to muster over 300 people, coming from various cause oriented groups like the Family Foundation of Kentucky and representatives of anti casino advocacy group Say No To Casino.
Say No To Casinos spokesman Martin Cothran heavily criticized the bill, calling it a “millionaire’s bailout.” On the other hand, Senate President David Williams, who showed up in the rally, says that the bill was like a means for the casinos to get more out of the state’s residents. “They never have their hands deep enough in the poor ma’s pocket,” he says of the bill.
On the other hand, Andy Hightower, Kentucky Cub for Growth executive director, said that the bill would waste taxpayers money. “We’re tired of spending $80,000 on nothing useful, nothing that would make this state a better place.” Hightower’s group also organized an anti gambling demonstration late Wednesday.
However, supporters of the bill were not to be outdone as they also organized a set of rallies. The groups staged their own demonstrations on Wednesday at the Rotunda Park. Organizers estimated that around 900 people came, but there were no official figures.
One of those present was former Kentucky Gov. and horse breeder Bereton Jones. Jones said that the move is necessary for the horse industry. “Saving our industry is not a partisan fight. We must preserve our heritage and 100,000 jobs directly or indirectly related to the $4 billion dollar industry,” he said
Most of those that attended are employees of the various race tracks around the state. Jockey Guild Regional Director Jeff Johnston said that this is the right time to implement measures to help the industry, as major races are being staged in the state. “if racing declines, we’ll lose that, and it needs to be protected.”
Laurel Bishop, an employee in the tracks added that “We want to show our support, we want to keep our jobs.”