Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed House Bill 594 into law on Thursday, which bans ‘gray machines’ in the state. This decision came despite the governor being a long-time supporter of legalizing expanded gambling, as he considers these controversial machines, which have proliferated in stores and bars around the state in recent years, as not complying with current law.
During his weekly Capitol press conference, the governor explained the difference in his support. “I think it’s time we had full-blown casinos in Kentucky, but it’s an industry that absolutely has to be regulated, and it needs to be legal,” he said, as reported by Kentucky Today.
“Gray machines are entirely unregulated, and I don’t believe they are legal. They came into Kentucky and set up and were taking dollars from Kentuckians and taking them out of state; with zero regulation, zero taxation, and zero help for those who may develop any issues from using them,” the governor added.
Beshear said he is interested in looking at ways to have additional gaming options in Kentucky and feels for those businesses who depended on the income from the gray machines but stated, “the law is the law.”
“I hope in the future, whether it’s additional Kentucky Lottery offerings or others, we can do some things to replace some of that revenue and give people options if they want to use their entertainment dollars this way, but also benefits the commonwealth and that small business owner,” he added.
Bill Miller, AGA CEO
The American Gaming Association (AGA) deemed the move a “milestone victory” for the legal gaming industry in the fight against illegal gambling. Kentucky is the first state to pass standalone legislation banning unregulated machines and joins Virginia in taking government action to limit this form of gambling.
“This win is a testament to what we can accomplish when we unite as an industry behind a common cause—and the American Gaming Association will use it as a springboard to pursue similar success in states throughout the country,” AGA CEO Bill Miller stated.
According to AGA, last year, Americans wagered $511 billion with unregulated machines and illegal sportsbooks, and online casinos—which the association said costs communities more than $13 billion in tax revenue. “Not only do these machines harm communities, but they also pose an existential threat to our industry,” AGA concluded.