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Opposed to expanded gambling

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By The Staff

On behalf of the Kentucky Baptist Convention's Committee on Public Affairs, I want to express our strong opposition to the effort to expand gambling by bringing casinos to our Commonwealth. We realize that the current state budget situation makes gambling expansion an attractive short-term fix to problems. However, we believe the benefits touted by the gambling industry are more imagined than real.

Gambling tends to hurt most those who can least afford it and serves as a tax increase that simply shifts money to the gambling industry that could be more usefully spent in other sectors of the economy. Expanded gambling does not create new money for the state; it only siphons it away from other parts of the economy.

Furthermore, the increased social costs of dealing with gambling addictions and squandered paychecks more than offset any benefits. Our government should be engaged in activities that strengthen society, not weaken it as gambling unquestionably does.

We also oppose General Assembly approval of a constitutional amendment to allow casinos that would have to be ratified or rejected by the people in November. Our legislators were elected specifically for the purpose of studying complicated issues and making decisions and should not seek to duck the issue. Passage of a constitutional amendment would usurp the democratic process by giving the gambling industry the opportunity to buy approval by pouring millions of dollars into media campaigns that cannot be matched by opponents.

Our Committee commends the many state legislators in both the House and the Senate who recognize the destructive impact that expanded gambling can have on our state and have taken public stands to oppose this proposal. We strongly encourage other legislators to take similarly courageous stands.

John Chowning, chairman

Committee on Public Affairs, Kentucky Baptist Convention