Expanded Gambling Has Tragic Consequences

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The Kentucky legislature convenes in regular session each year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January for 60 days in even-numbered years and for 30 days in odd-numbered years. This year’s long session began with a strong push from Gov. Steve Beshear to expand gambling in our state.

The governor keeps making the same argument, stating that money Kentuckians spend to gamble in other states should be spent in the Commonwealth. Most reasonable observers agree that the governor has significantly overestimated the amount of money Kentuckians spend on gambling as well as the amount of tax dollars that would fill the coffers of state government if gambling were to be expanded.

That aside, expanded gambling is no win for Kentucky. The tragic consequences for children and families are well documented. A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal states, “Several populations are vulnerable to the impacts of gambling, in addition to lower socioeconomic groups. The cost to families in terms of dysfunctional relationships, violence and abuse, financial pressure, and disruption of growth and development of children can be great.”

If we care about the poor, about families, and about children, every Kentucky Baptist should immediately pick up the phone and urge their governor to abandon his personal commitments to the gambling industry for the sake of those he has been elected to lead and protect. Moreover, I urge every Kentucky Baptist to contact their legislators and request that those legislators act responsibly by doing everything within their power to block expanded gambling in Kentucky.

I spend about $25 per month to have my trash hauled away. I could save that money if I chose to dump it in my backyard instead but I really don’t want a trash heap where my kids play so I’ll gladly see the money leave my checking account. My subdivision prohibits residents from having swine. I could probably make a little money raising pigs but, at the end of the day, I’m glad to live where I don’t have to smell them. The economic gain from some things just isn’t worth the cost.

Will some Kentuckians spend their money on gambling? It’s a poor choice but, yes, some Kentuckians will spend their money on gambling. Does that mean we should invite the stench of corruption into our state? Should we bring the trash heap closer to our families? I don’t think so.

If Kentucky Baptists speak with a clear and united voice, we can speak loudly enough to turn back the tide on expanded gambling. Please make a personal call to the legislative message line at 800-372-7181 and leave a message for your state senator to oppose all gambling expansion efforts in Kentucky.

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