Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Louisville political columnist John David Dyche penned a column with WDRB questioning the merits of expanded gambling, an issue that besets the Commonwealth in a seemingly unending cycle.

Drawing upon the recent (and excellent) op-ed by conservative columnist Ross Douthat, Dyche continues in like manner by questioning the wisdom of expanding gambling.

According to Dyche,

The proliferation of casino gambling to 39 states, including 5 bordering Kentucky, complicates the case for those who oppose casinos here.  Expansionists argue that since Kentuckians can so easily gamble at other states' casinos already, and since any social costs are therefore already a risk, Kentucky should at least get some money out of the process.

Kentucky Wins cites a 2012 study estimating that by 2015 Kentuckians will spend $527 million in casinos elsewhere.  They want to keep this money in state and use revenues from it "for valuable projects without the need for costly tax increases." 

In a recent column, David Frum, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, argued that casinos target "those who can least afford to lose," "act as parasites" on local economies, have negative impact on property values, and "shift the cost of government from the richer to the poorer."  Frum, a very smart fellow who is not a bleeding heart, a prude, nor a religious zealot, urges people in non-casino states to fight to keep them that way.  


Among the report's propositions are that state sponsorship of casinos "creates a stratified pattern that parallels the separate and unequal life patterns in education, marriage, work, and play that increasingly divide America into haves and have-nots."  Think Charles Murray's recent book Coming Apart

The report says the casino issue is not a narrow one about the morality of gambling, but poses broader and more important questions of public policy.  It concludes that "American casinos are associated with a range of negative health, economic, political, intellectual, and social outcomes" and that "state sponsorship of casino gambling" is "a regressive and damaging policy."

Surprisingly, at the end, Dyche admits his own thinking has been changed, causing him to reconsider whether his initial support for gaming was as wise as he once thought.

As he says,

This columnist has previously expressed support for expanded gambling and relaxed marijuana laws.  Other columnists are now causing this one to reconsider.