Whitesburg KY

Most Kentuckians want to vote on casino issue

A majority of voters want the chance to decide whether casinos should be allowed in the state, according to a new poll.

The Lexington Herald- Leader/Action News 36 Election Poll found that 82 percent of Kentuckians want to vote on the issue.

“Kentuckians want this resolved and they want their voice heard,” said Patrick Neely, executive director of the pro-casino Kentucky Equine Education Project.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has tried to paint this fall’s gubernatorial election as a “referendum” on casinos, but the message isn’t working, said Del Ali, the pollster who conducted the phone survey of 600 likely voters.

Issues such as job creation, health care and education are affecting the votes of about as many people, the survey found.

“Casino gambling is not the issue driving the gubernatorial election,” Ali said.

After saying for years that he wouldn’t block state lawmakers from putting the issue on the ballot, Fletcher changed his position this summer and said he will fight against allowing voters to consider a constitutional amendment on the subject.

“As Kentuckians are becoming more educated on the issue and the experiences of other states, they’re recognizing that the state should not welcome a predatory peddler of an addictive product,” said John-Mark Hack, chairman of the Say No to Casinos Campaign.

Only 11 percent of respondents said they opposed a vote on casinos.

The poll was conducted Sept. 10-13 by Olney, Md.-based Research 2000 and has a margin of error of four percentage points.

The Herald-Leader/Action News 36 poll found that 48 percent of likely voters oppose casinos, compared with 42 percent who support them. Ten percent were not sure.

Fletcher has argued that casinos will increase crime, bankruptcy, suicide and divorce in Kentucky. His Democratic opponent, Steve Beshear, contends that allowing a limited number of casinos would create hundreds of millions of new tax dollars for education and health care.

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