Casino gaming has become a major industry in the United States in recent decades. For much of the 20th century, only Nevada had legal casinos. Then in the late 1970s, casino operations were established in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and on American Indian reservations. Now 20 states and about 200 tribes host some form of commercial casinos.
Kentuckians don’t have to drive far to find expanded gambling. Indiana has multiple riverboat casinos on the Ohio River, and Cincinnati opened a downtown casino earlier this year.
Kentucky Wins is a new group of pro-gambling business and community leaders. They want legislators to allow a vote on a constitutional amendment approving more gambling in the state.
On Monday’s Kentucky Tonight, two representatives from Kentucky Wins and two opponents to expanded gambling debated the issue.
Many of you also let us know your thoughts about gambling in the Commonwealth. I read a number of tweets and email messages on the air, but couldn’t get to all of them.
Teresa Packer wrote from Louisville to say, “Please say no to expanded gambling. Our society is in such ill repair now it would take a miracle to get it out of the gutter. Expanded gambling just brings more despair to those who can’t even afford to put food on their tables.”
And Peter Kerr from Wilmore raised several interesting questions:
Philosophically, government should be “by the people, of the people, for the people.” How do you justify the government profiting out of the misfortune of people who lose money?
Other states with expanded gambling have seen increased corruption as casino owners influence politics. If we allow expanded gambling in Kentucky, how will we prevent casino owners from having undue influence on political leaders as they back their favorite politicians?
According to the manual that psychologists use to diagnose mental disorders, gambling is addictive, and slot machines are more addictive since they have faster play and pay-off rates. We also know that if a casino is near a population, [local citizens] will be more apt to use it. How can you justify encouraging a habit that clearly has the potential to be addictive and ruin families?
Thanks to everyone who contacted us with comments and questions about expanded gambling. Stay with KET and Kentucky Tonight as we continue to cover this issue in the coming months.