Casino Exec In Contribution Controversy

Published on: February 23, 2008 

In a year that will see a new president voted into power, all eyes are watching the political goings on of every official from the small town level higher.  Newly elected Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and William Yung III, head of the Columbia Sussex Corporation, and wealthy casino owner, are currently finding themselves in the spotlight.  It seems that Yung contributed $1 million to a political group that helped get Beshear elected.  Beshear just happens to be pro-gambling and has already begun work on getting a casino prohibition in the state lifted.

Yung has stated that he will not apologize for his part in getting Beshear elected, stating that he was exercising his First Amendment rights in giving the money to the political group.  

Beshear is currently in the process of penning an amendment to Kentucky’s constitution that would permit seven casinos to be built in conjunction with the existing horse tracks, and five others bordering Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  The twelve casinos would help generate an estimated $600 million in tax revenue which could help relieve the cash-strapped state.  Currently a lawmaker in Cincinnati, Ohio, is working on a similar proposal to build casinos in Ohio to help keep Ohio residents and tourists from crossing the Ohio River and giving their cash to the other state instead.

If the proposal should happen to pass, it will be a surprise considering Kentucky is a Bible-belt state in which many similar proposals have been rejected over the last ten years.  Yung has already stated that if the law goes through the northern Kentucky land he bought in January will be the site of a new casino.  Unfortunately, Yung’s casino may not go through thanks to his political contributions which helped pay for Beshear’s inaugural party.  Already casino opponents are claiming that he has tried to buy his way into the market, although Beshear denies any favouritism and claims that Yung will have to apply for his license just like all the rest.

Yung’s company Columbia Sussex already owns thirteen casinos and eighty hotels in the United States and in other countries.  He does not feel that the land investment was jumping the gun, claiming that can he resell the ‘prime real estate’ if need be.  Columbia is currently being investigated in New Jersey and Indiana due to questionable employment practices after taking control of the Indiana casino from Aztar Corporation.  In an effort to stall the investigations in the two states, and keeping one from starting in Las Vegas, he has put the New Jersey and Indiana casinos up for sale.

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