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By Larry Rowell
Kentucky Gov. Beshear said that one of his top priorities, if re-elected, would be working to create jobs so that every Kentuckian who wants a job has one. Now that the election is over, another one of Beshear’s secondary goals-expanded gambling and gaming-has moved to the front burner. Without $1 billion in federal stimulus money to help balance next year’s budget, the governor who favors adding casinos in partnership with racetracks, wants to add revenue through “gaming” or gambling. Whether one calls it gaming or gambling, this is no way to balance the budget. While most state legislators don’t want to raise taxes on working class families during this horrible economy, permitting casinos to open in the state would place a tax on the poor and the elderly. Picture in your mind that chartered buses take senior citizens for a “gaming trip” to casinos in nearby states for a little fun. And how much of that senior’s Social Security check will end up in the slot machine, one quarter at a time?
Or, what about a working class head-of-household who takes the Friday paycheck into a casino “for a little fun” only to walkout a short time later broke? Who in his family will call that fun? Working class people and seniors who dream of hitting that big payout keep the casinos in business. Several years ago, I was part of a family group that went to a nearby state to eat at the buffet in a hotel that also owned an adjoining casino. I have often wondered how many paychecks got cashed and gambled away on that day by people who needed to provide shelter, food and clothing for their families. How do you explain to a hungry child that the breadwinner of the family has now become the breadloser? Call it “relaxing” or “fun” of “gaming” all you want, but casinos don’t stay in business by letting the majority of their players win. Also, I would like for Kentucky legislators to answer a question about gambling and tax revenue for the state. If gambling is so successful in stimulating a state’s economy and job creation, why does Nevada have the highest unemployment rate in the nation. The good news in this unfolding fiasco is the improbability that this proposal will ever pass the Republican controlled senate in Frankfort. Republican Sen. David Williams, the Senate President, has been called the “Bully for Burkesville.” And even though Williams said recently that Kentuckians would see a more cooperative spirit in his working with the governor and the Democratic majority in the House, I hope he keeps the chip on his shoulder when it comes to the gambling issue. Sen. Williams, stick to your guns and help keep expanded gambling and gaming out of Kentucky. Gambling and casinos won’t fix the state’s budget woes and overall, it’s just wrong for Kentucky.
Editor’s note: Larry Rowell is a staff writer for the Casey County News in Liberty.