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Archive for Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Legislators question gambling proposals

March 11, 2003

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— Despite a push from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, legislative leaders say chances are slim that any measures to expand gambling will be debated this session.

Sebelius is expected to include a provision for additional gambling at Kansas racetracks in her proposals for covering a projected budget shortfall of nearly $1 billion.

But Senate President Dave Kerr is uncertain there is much legislative support for legalizing more gambling, which he said would take revenue away from the Kansas Lottery and other types of entertainment.

"I've never seen a state gamble its way to wealth," said Kerr, R-Hutchinson. "There's no real case to be made that this solves the state's problems. Certainly not on a timely basis."

Testimony was scheduled today before the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee on bills allowing slot machines and other gambling devices at pari-mutuel tracks and lottery retail outlets, such as convenience stores.

One of the bills, backed by racetracks, offers the state 20 percent of revenue. Robin Jennison, lobbyist for Wichita Greyhound Park, said Monday that expanded gambling at racetracks would encourage the building of resorts and casinos.

Legislators introduced several gambling proposals last year, but just one passed the House and never left committee in the Senate. House Speaker Doug Mays does not see prospects as being any better this year.

"It's a very, very complicated issue that I frankly don't think will be worked in time to get through this session," said Mays, R-Topeka.

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