The RP Nation Weighs in on the Gambling Debate

Yesterday, The Recovering Politician featured a lively debate among the contributing RPs on the subject of whether states should expand gambling for the additional tax revenues they present during these difficult times.

To read the first piece that started it, check out The RP’s “The Moral Case for Gaming

To review all of the arguments and counter-arguments, pro, con and sideways, from yesterday’s RPs Debate, click here.

Our readers sent in some very thoughtful and interesting comments.  We excerpt a few below:

I understand the need for gambling in Kentucky.  I have no moral arguments against gambling.  My discussion is more the benefits of the individual vs. the benefits of society. First a disclaimer – I’m very liberal. Statistically speaking, it is no surprise to the educated that gambling favors the “house”.  The odds are any one person will probably lose more money than they gain from a wager.

According to a national survey, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be “pathological” gamblers. Impulsivity also was greater among youth of lower socio-economic status . Gambling can also find risk populations with older adults. The bottom line, to me, is does the benefit of society outweigh the benefit (or lack thereof) for the individual.  W.C. Fields said there’s a sucker born every minute.  And Kentucky would depend on these “suckers” to help fund our state. Yes, we have our signs that urge citizens to drink responsibly, gamble responsibly, etc.  But I can’t help but feel Kentucky would be enabling a negative behavior for those least able to afford it.

I understand other states have gambling, and Kentucky is losing $$ to those states.  What percentage of Kentucky citizens are flocking to tangential states, and what percentage do we anticipate gambling would increase in Kentucky with in-state casinos? We need to be creative to generate income for our state.  And I know in-state gambling is one of those creative ideas.  I just believe it is an idea the ultimately will generate as many problems as it attempts to solve.


The issue is NOT GAMBLING.  The issue is RESPONSIBILITY. Taxes are how we share among us the costs of creating our community. The gambling industry  appears to be the only industry seeking to pay taxes, to bear their share of the financial
support of the infrastructure and maintenance of our state.  We don’t need gambling.  We need community partners.  We need business and industrial firms that are willing to be part of our community. The community provides willing workers, a transportation web, and the systems that develop and maintain these, like storm sewers and schools.  Businesses provide opportunities to work, hopefully for a living wage. There is no need to forgive taxes. We do not forgive taxes on individuals just because they are willing to work. So we should not forgive taxes on a firm just because it provides jobs.  We need each other.  What kind of demonic illusion do we have?  What story do the leaders of commerce and industry tell themselves that they do not expect to pay their share of the cost of police, fire, schools, sewers, roads, etc. No community, no town, no city, no county, and surely no state, can survive foregoing taxes.  Every time state government gives a tax break to a business, that raises my taxes.  Every time. So much for “not raising taxes”. Taxes are the way we share among us the costs required to create our community.   Let us pray for business leaders other than the gamblers who understand that. 


I am very much in favor of expanded gaming.  As far as I am concerned, morality is not an issue.  People don’t stop gambling because they can’t do it in KY.  They just go to our neighboring states and give them money for their roads, schools, and financial needs.  The money is needed in KY.  It makes no sense not to keep the money here.  We already have gaming here with horse racing, lottery and bingo.  Why are we suddenly scared of having casinos?  Absolutely Ridiculous. 


I tend to agree with Rev. Kemper on issue of casino or racino gambling. I opposed the lottery for the same reason – it is a tax on those least able to pay for no other reason that those able to pay  do not want to and government is not willing to live within the means of the revenue that it has.  There is something fundamentally wrong about the state promoting an activity that is potentially destructive of the basic building block of society – the family.  The lottery is, to my mind,  just one degree short of being a fraud, and it should be saddening to all those who care about our Commonwealth to hear it so strongly promoted by the state. On more practical grounds, only small percentage of the take from casinos will stay in the state. Casinos will act as a huge vacuum sucking money out of circulation in Kentucky.  They will not contribute job growth and over the long term may well serve to reduce gross revenue.   Casino gambling is a bad idea, for a lot of good reasons, but even more so if it is thought to be a panacea for our budgetary problems. 


Since starting in September, the operations at Kentucky Downs has exploded. They are already generating millions of dollars for the horse industry in Kentucky. They are already generating millions of dollars for the state. This will increase when Kentucky Downs expands next week. This will increase when Ellis Park introduces the product in April. Kentucky is already on the road to maintaining its slogan as being the “Horse Capitol of the World”.  I realize the Governor is working on a Bill to offer a statewide Referendum on the issue of Gambling. However, a great alternative is already in the state, thanks to the progressive approach the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission took last summer. Good for Kentucky…the Thoroughbred Industry will be saved!


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