Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Releases Advisory Legal Opinion Regarding Video Lottery Terminals At Racetracks
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 15, 2009) – Attorney General Jack Conway today released the attached advisory legal opinion http://tinyurl.com/naxbzk regarding video lottery terminals at Kentucky racetracks. General Conway determined that it would not be necessary to further amend the Kentucky Constitution if the Kentucky General Assembly chose to enact a law allowing the Kentucky Lottery Corporation to operate the terminals at tracks.
“My staff and I simply followed the law and allowed it to lead us to the proper legal conclusion on this issue,” General Conway said. “What we were asked to do was determine whether a provision allowing video lottery terminals at racetracks is allowed under the Kentucky Constitution, as amended, and we believe it is.”
•This most recent opinion synthesizes the previous five Office of the Attorney General opinions.
•It rejects the notion that comments from one legislator express the legislative intent of the entire General Assembly.
•If allowing other types of gaming under the auspices of the Kentucky Lottery Corporation were unconstitutional, then the General Assembly would not have passed a statute in 1990 prohibiting the corporation from operating casino-style games.
•The opinion notes that the General Assembly, by enacting statutes, can restrict or expand the types of games offered by the Kentucky Lottery Corporation.
•The opinion relies heavily on the ruling of Kentucky's highest court in the Jockey Club case of 1931 – the binding legal opinion on the issues of gaming and lotteries.
•West Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, Oregon and New York have expanded gaming under similar provisions upheld by the courts.
“I followed my statutory duty by providing, when requested, an advisory legal opinion to the General Assembly,” General Conway said. “I believe I have provided, after thorough analysis, an extensive legal opinion that will be persuasive to any court in the Commonwealth.”
Rep. Jody Richards (D-Bowling Green) made the opinion request on May 7, 2009. The Office of the Attorney General expedited the request in order for lawmakers to have the information before the start of the special session. Rep. Richards asked whether electronic games at Kentucky’s racetracks are allowed under Section 226 of the Kentucky Constitution. This opinion relies on two pieces of legislation as the legal framework for the advisory legal opinion - House Bill 158, legislation presented during the 2009 regular session of the General Assembly, and Gov. Beshear’s draft video lottery terminal legislation.
Before issuing the opinion, as is customary, General Conway sought input from stakeholders – including the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) and the Kentucky Citizens Against Gambling Expansion (CAGE). KEEP responded to the request with its legal analysis. CAGE did not respond to the request.
An opinion of the attorney general is advisory and is not legally binding. By statute, if the attorney general is asked by a member of the legislature to provide a legal opinion on an issue, he or she is required to do so.
Kentucky currently has three legal forms of gambling – the state-run lottery, charitable gaming and pari-mutuel betting on horse racing.