Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Being a state that is closely tied to the horse racing industry, it’s not a surprise that expanded gambling is frequently discussed in Kentucky.  Even more, it’s no surprise this issue comes up when the woes of Kentucky’s economy are mentioned.  Keeping those things in mind, there are a few questions we should ask.

Would expanded gambling improve the work ethic of Kentuckians?

The prosperity of the Commonwealth is built on the hard work and ingenuity of previous generations.  It’s the only way the Commonwealth will be shared with the generations to come.  The Apostle Paul said if anyone is unwilling to work, he shouldn’t be allowed to eat.  The allurement of easy riches doesn’t promote the valuable principle of hard work.

Would expanded gambling promote false hope to Kentuckians?

When you think of a skilled trade, what comes to mind?  A vocational school would never teach the trade of learning to pick lottery numbers or how to play a slot machine. 

Hopefully, students go to school to learn a skill or trade with the understanding that they will use this ability to provide for themselves and others.  Gambling is built on the hope that the next coin, the next ticket, the next race, or the next pull of the lever will pay huge dividends.

Should the state government partner with an institution that could contribute to addiction?

Race tracks and casinos are usually established through state sponsored incentives.  This is different than an industry that is regulated by state government, because it is the state government partnering with a business a business that could cause harm to citizens.

Did you know the National Center for Responsible Gaming estimates 1.2 million Americans struggling with gambling addictions annually.  Compare that to the 600,000 people that the Center for Disease Control say die from cancer each year?  This means there are twice as many families affected by gambling addiction than by cancer.  Whether we hear about them or not, gambling addictions are prevalent in the United States.

Yes, there are rebuttals to each of these questions.  Yes, expanded gaming is legal in states that border Kentucky.  Yes, there might be tax revenue generated by expanded gambling sites. But is it worth the risk to the overall health of Kentucky in this generation and for the ones to come?