Kentuckians are in an uproar. In a state long-known for fast horses, bourbon and its top “cash crop” being illegal, which is ironically paired with Bible-Belt partisanship, Gov. Steve Beshear had the nerve to unveil a proposal which (gasp), actually suggests that the state expand into casino gaming territory.
Should this even be an issue for a state whose most nationally publicized event involves wagering on horses while downing mint juleps?
Though only in its initial stages, Beshear’s initial proposal should eventually become legislation which allows constituents to vote on whether or not they support expanding gaming in the Commonwealth, most likely including language that explicitly states how gaming revenues would be dispersed throughout the state’s budget.
Staring down a projected $900 million budget deficit, Kentuckians shouldn’t be picky about what type of funding is employed to help ease tensions. Do we need to be reminded of our national ranks in educational and health care funding? Should I even mention that these figures would likely become worse?
Arguing that legalized casino gaming is the cause of irresponsible, destructive gambling is analagous to claiming that fast-food resturants cause obesity. Both ignore the constraints compounded by the “free-will” choices of human nature, and ignore alternative explanations (such as more reasonable, scientifically quantifiable explanations) that propose a mixture of underyling conditions as precipiatators for these complex social and biological phenomena.
Compulsive gamblers have plenty of options for exercising their social ills: the Kentucky Lottery, off-shore online gambling applications such as Bodog, PokerStars, Full Tilt, etc., and/or visiting casinos in neighboring states. Like it or not, Kentuckians feel the ill effects of gambling while reaping none of the benefits.
Simply making a specific form of gaming illegal does nothing to combat the actual reasons why some facilitate it in a manner that destroys their livelihood; much in the same facets as alcoholism, illicit substance abuse, obesity, etc.
Ideally, no social ills would result from any social situations; however this isn’t reality. With any type of economic development, some type of despair will result for a certain segment of the population. It is our duty as citizens to make ourselves aware of what constitutes responsible moral and social behavior, and act accordingly.
As a voter, I would be in favor of expanded casino gaming, provided that outlined proposals included measures that would make the industry a viable building block for further sustainable development, especially given the possibility of cash in-flows from any of our seven neighboring states.
If gaming were developed with “resort” style ideas and sustainable development to the state’s economy through re-investments in education, health-care, as well as further economic and tourism development, then benefits could grow exponentially.
Imagine the fanfare surrounding Churchill Downs if PGA -level golf courses and more family-themed performing arts were incorporated into casino expansion. Imagine the development which could be brought into the Southeastern Kentucky region if the London/Corbin area could use it’s existing tourism draw of Lake Cumberland and added luxury rental cabins and boardwalk-style attractions (miniature golf, go-carts, etc.) in attempt to rival the Smokey Mountain region’s existing monopoly on regional/weekend tourism.
Simply put, Kentucky’s economy needs all the help it can get.