Kentucky contributions

jetset

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POLITICS AND MONEY - A VOLATILE MIX

Land casino operator defends contributions to Kentucky politician

A political row is gaining momentum in the US state of Kentucky over a $1 million "contribution" by a land casino owner to a political group that worked to elect a pro-gambling governor in Kentucky, reports Associated Press this weekend.

The casino owner, William Yung III, has essentially placed a huge bet that newly elected Governor Steve Beshear will be able to get the state's long-standing prohibition against casinos lifted, the article claims.

Yung has been forthright about his contribution: "I make no apologies for helping get Steve Beshear elected," he told The Associated Press in an interview. "I've got a First Amendment right to spend my money any way I want to spend it."

Governor Beshear is proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would allow up to seven casinos to be built at Kentucky horse tracks and five others in communities along the state's borders with Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

That many casinos, he said, could generate $600 million a year in tax revenue for a cash-strapped state government.

The proposal is a long shot in a Bible-belt state where lawmakers have rejected numerous other casino proposals over the past decade. If it passes, Yung would open a casino on a northern Kentucky site he bought just last month for $7 million.

"Absolutely, we're gambling on it," Yung said. "We don't know if it's going to pass or not."

Yung's $1 million contribution went to the Kentucky political group Bluegrass Freedom Fund that ran devastating television ads capitalising on the former governor's legal woes. Internal Revenue Service records show Yung's contribution accounted for a third of the $3 million the group spent during the Governor Beshear's race for the governor's mansion.

"I have done absolutely nothing wrong. Steve Beshear's done nothing wrong. Nobody associated with us has done anything wrong," he said. "It's just pretty sickening politics."

Yung's generosity included a $10 000 donation to help pay for Beshear's inaugural party on the Capitol grounds. Casino opponents claim he is using his riches to buy his way into a new and potentially lucrative market.

Political contributions of $1 million or more are becoming common in state-level elections, said Rachel Weiss, spokeswoman for the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Beshear, who raised and spent about $6.8 million on his campaign last year against former Governor Ernie Fletcher, insists Yung's contributions bought him no favours. Yung would have to apply for a casino license just like anyone else, Beshear said.

"It would be naive for anybody to believe that a $1 million contribution to a fund that helped elect a pro-casino governor is not going to position the contributor in a favorable way," said John Mark Hack, head of the antigambling group Say No To Casinos.

After Beshear took office in December, Yung's privately held company, Columbia Sussex, paid $7 million for a site in northern Kentucky to build a casino. Yung called the property "prime real estate" that he can easily resell if Beshear's casino proposal flops.

Yung's company owns 13 casinos and 80 hotels in the United States and beyond, pulling in revenues of some $3 billion a year.

Governor Beshear had made legalising casinos a centrepiece of his campaign against former Governor Ernie Fletcher, a Republican who had been weakened by political scandal. Beshear pulled off a lopsided victory, and claimed it reflected broad-based support for legalising casinos.

Casino opponents, however, say Beshear's victory was the result of distaste for Fletcher, who, along with 13 associates, was indicted in 2006 for alleged violations of state hiring laws. Fletcher pardoned his associates and reached a deal with prosecutors to have the charges against him dropped.

"Donald Duck could have run against Ernie Fletcher and been elected governor," Hack said.
 

NASHVEGAS

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What is the latest with Columbia Sussex and the Trop.?.....Is Columbia Sussex still being forced to find a Buyer by the NJ Gaming Commision (iir all c) and if so has the real truth ever come out why???.......Tennessee is located adjacent to the Southern border of KY (about 60 miles from my crib), not sure I need a casino so close:Angel: in the event it ever happens. If it did, hopefully a top notch operator would be involved as Columbia Sussex is not exactly swimming in a sea of good publicity currently. Winbig just provided a link in another thread where Columbia Sussex has problems at Casino Aztar in Evansville,IN. which is just a few minutes from the Northern Kentucky border......Kentucky does leave alot of tax dollars sitting on the table though with all the casinos just barely north of the Kentucky border in Indiana and Illinois. Not sure how much of the market share is from Kentucky for these casinos but I bet it is the majority.
 
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GGW Laurie

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What is the latest with Columbia Sussex and the Trop.?.....Is Columbia Sussex still being forced to find a Buyer by the NJ Gaming Commision (iir all c) and if so has the real truth ever come out why???.......Tennessee is located adjacent to the Southern border of KY (about 60 miles from my crib), not sure I need a casino so close:Angel: in the event it ever happens. If it did, hopefully a top notch operator would be involved as Columbia Sussex is not exactly swimming in a sea of good publicity currently. Winbig just provided a link in another thread where Columbia Sussex has problems at Casino Aztar in Evansville,IN. which is just a few minutes from the Northern Kentucky border......Kentucky does leave alot of tax dollars sitting on the table though with all the casinos just barely north of the Kentucky border in Indiana and Illinois. Not sure how much of the market share is from Kentucky for these casinos but I bet it is the majority.
...i like the idea of having a casino closer than metropolis or tunica (cant beat tunica anyway lol) but just as the lottery issue when tennessee didnt have it we were losing money to kentucky then, i dont think the inpact will be that great on tenn. as far as losing revenue.hell i for one would love to see a gambling boat on the cumberland river but we were lucky to get the lottery so i dont see casinos in tennessee anytime soon.maybe with some of the revenue comming in from the up comming casinos, kentucky will get some work done on their roads, its a bumpy ride whether your driving to metropolis or louisville or up the pennyrile parkway to aztar imo....laurie:)
 

NASHVEGAS

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That retired judge is still in charge Nash, they didnt find a buyer yet unless I missed something
I am sure there are some political overtones along with public relations spin doctoring as to why Columbia Sussex was forced out. Yet ,in today's time, politics or not this is practically unprecedented. Would love to know the truth of why and what with the Trop. (we may never really know but still....) especially since Columbia Sussex seems to have made the new Kentucky governor a puppet, well actually a puppet could have beat old Governor Fletcher as Jetset's article says. I think Mousey ,iirc, even started a thread a few months ago on Fletcher's deceiving anti-gambling tactics, just brilliant with the horseracing industry and its' (old) money in Kentucky!!!
 
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