I can tell you now that the person in Frankfort I have been working with is Senator Perry Clark. Senator Clark has been working on this legislation with us since the beginning and deserves much praise for his willingness to tackle this issue.
Back in December Kaven Rumpel was approached by Patrick Neely of the KEEP project to discuss a way to co exist. Bart Adkins Chairman of D.A.D.S., Kaven Rumpel spokesman for Kosair Charities, and myself, Ed Springston media spokesman for many Charities, were there on behalf of Charitable gaming.
At that time we spoke with Mr. Neely and explained to him a plan we felt would benefit the charities, the Commonwealth, AND the horsemen who need the help. We showed KEEP a way to accomplish all in a fair equitable manner and the way it could be done quickly before any of us fell further behind.
This plan essentially allows for video slots the horsemen want to be brought under the Charitable Gaming umbrella. Why you may ask? I ask why not.
The Office of Charitable Gaming already regulates gaming by overseeing Monte Carlo nights, basically full casino gambling on a limited basis, regulates pull tabs or "paper slots", and already has a staff and regulations in place to oversee the policing.
The bill also includes language that will allow charities that are struggling to be in a better position to succeed and will help more charities try to fund themselves. It also includes an agreement that 5% of slot revenue goes into a charitable fund, overseen by the Office of Charitable Gaming (OCGA), that will be disbursed in in its entirety within 6 months of fiscal close to applying charities.
The 5% rule will ensure that those who need help most will continue to get it.
All of this done by verbal agreement in principle from the December meeting with KEEP representative Patrick Neely.
Additionally, all of this will be accomplished at NO COST to the taxpayer at all. The OCGA is self funded now.
By bringing this under the Charitable gaming umbrella we will not need to spend extra tax money funding any new divisions, favored by Governor Steve Beshear, by working through the Ky Lottery Corp or special interests such as G Tek.
This will help insure the money goes where it is supposed to instead of being tied up in bureaucratic red tape or favoritism for political appointed cronies.
Senator Perry Clark has been involved in hopes that there can be a way to reconciling the problems in this regard. His hope was finding a way to better the Commonwealth, save the charities, and aid the horsemen. He deserves much praise for his help in all of this.
In 2003 Charitable gaming gross revenues were approximately $603 million annually second only to the Kentucky Lottery Corporation for gaming dollars with Horse racing coming in a distant 3rd.
Each year that revenue has fallen and for 2009 it is projected to be approximately $359 million give or take. This essentially means that our charities, who have been working to fund themselves and not be a burden on the Commonwealth or local Government, have been losing ways of fending for themselves financially.
With approximately $250 million gone that charities could use to fund their needs before where would they go for help?
Our government agencies.
Does Kentucky have an additional $250 million to dole out? No. And that is why we decided to work together to see if we could find a way to help those who need it most.
Back in October I wrote about VLT's versus Charitable Gaming: Louisville News and Politics: VLT'S VERSUS CHARITABLE GAMING: THE FIX IS IN. This article was designed to bring the issues to light and let people know what I felt was going on.
Governor Beshear with his ties to G Tek, and others, was trying to find a way to funnel gaming dollars to the Ky Lottery Corp. and ensure G Tek would be the only ones allowed to do any electronics work. This would certainly have aided the horsemen but would have done it at the expense of the Charities and those who need the help the most.
Governor Beshear's plan would also commit tax dollars towards his endeavor at a time when we do not need that commitment since an organization is already in place to handle this.
Totally self funded at that.
SB 222 now on the docket sponsored by Senator Clark will rectify that situation. It allows for the horsemen to get what they need to survive while at the same time protecting the charities and in fact aiding them in self funding their particular interests.
Though the horsemen decided a few weeks ago to go "in a different direction" we still have decided to work towards their interests as well by not changing the language of SB 222 to exclude them.
The olive branch has been extended but questions remain.
Will KEEP headed by former Governor Brereton Jones work together to help everyone?
Is the issue truly to help horsemen as we are being told? If so, will they join in or continue trying to force charities out of business for their own corporate greed.
Will the rest of the legislature step up to the plate and make the tough decisions to allow this bill to be heard and vote to help those who need it most?
All at no cost to we the taxpayers.
It is time for everyone involved to quit playing politics and do their job. Present the legislation to the floor for a vote and be held accountable accordingly.
Senator Perry Clark certainly deserves thanks for doing his part in putting his name and efforts on the line with SB 222 what say the rest of you elected officials?