Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

There is a crafty move to marry the Kentucky Lottery with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in order to expand gambling. It would allow the Lottery to create electronic games that purportedly allow wagering on a horse race taking place somewhere in America. Considering the inherent deception associated with the casino crowd the games they have in mind will look more like video gambling machines than any kind of bet on a horse race.  In reality, if SB 74 is passed it will bring electronic gambling machines into convenience stores that sell lottery tickets. 

Consider what gambling researcher Ivan Zabilka reports about what casinos have done for Illinois state finances. He also reports on the heavy-handed punishments proposed in a recent  bill for those communities who wouldn't permit expanded gambling:

Illinois is really struggling.  The state is the worst case example of how to maximize the problems that stem from gambling.  Illinois, once a wealthy industrial state with a huge farming base as well, has fallen on hard times.  It has a massive debt, since the legislature has continued spending as if the state were still wealthy.  The state has repeatedly turned to expanded gambling to help with the deficits.  It hasn’t worked.

The most recent expansion was placing five slot machines in venues with a liquor license.  These casino cafes, bars, truck stops and convenience stores have proliferated into tens of thousands of slots all over the state, with the result that two racetracks are in bankruptcy and the others close.  Casino revenue has declined, but still no closing of the budget gap from the new gambling.  Applications for liquor licenses have proliferated as well.   Only a few opponents warned that the mini-casinos would hurt the bigger ones.

If you ever doubted that some legislators do not care about the people, I remind you that when the bill to approve the mini-casinos was under consideration, some legislators suggested that jurisdictions that refused the machines, would have to pay fines, and fail to receive road funds.  This is commonly called blackmail.  Since the fines would be based on every possible venue have the maximum number of machines and then have to pay the average state revenue from each machine, the fines were staggering.  Kane County figured that it would lose $275,000 in road funds and have to pay several million in fines.  The price for a community to protect its citizens from addiction would be to endanger all on poor roads and bridges. Fortunately, these nasty bills did not pass.