Last week’s Western Recorder included an article on the influence of Baptists upon Kentucky state government. The article is cause for rejoicing since our Baptist voice is still being heard on issues like religious liberty, the sanctity of marriage, and defense of the poor.
With the 2014 legislative session having come to a close, the latest attempts to expand gambling in Kentucky may seem dead and buried yet again. What many Kentuckians fail to realize, however, is that slot-like machines have been fully operational in our state since 2011 even though they are prohibited by our constitution.
Section 226.3 of the Constitution of Kentucky mandates that, with the exception of the state lottery, all other “lotteries and gift enterprises are forbidden, and no privileges shall be granted for such purposes, and none shall be exercised, and no schemes for similar purposes shall be allowed.” According to USLEGAL.com, “gift enterprise includes any scheme using…any non-telecommunication related, player-activated electronic or electromechanical facsimile of any game of chance, or any slot machine of any kind.”
Casting the constitution aside, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted on July 20, 2010 to essentially recognize the playing of these slot-like machines as a form of horse racing. With the cover of a gambling-friendly governor, these so-called “instant racing” machines are now operating illegally in the state.
The Family Foundation sought to join a lawsuit in the Franklin Circuit Court to have the instant racing machines shut down. Though the Family Foundation was granted standing by the court they were not permitted to ask pre-trial questions or do pre-trial discovery. Shockingly, the court found the machines “not to be illegal.” Even more shockingly, in February of this year, the Kentucky Supreme Court also gave legal standing to the machines.
What have these matters to do with Kentucky Baptists? They illustrate, once again, the incessant push to expand gambling. They also illustrate the need of every Kentuckian to be aware of the protections guaranteed by our constitution and to elect officials who will refuse to compromise those protections.
Whether the issue is redefining marriage, welcoming slots and casinos, or some yet unforeseen matter on the horizon, Kentuckians have already addressed most of the issues that would bring corruption and moral chaos to our state. We have done so in our most basic governing document, our constitution. Often referred to as the “principal law of the Commonwealth,” our constitution is in greater need today of men and women who will stand for it and on it than at any other time in our history. Might the quarter of the population in Kentucky who call ourselves Southern Baptist remember this need as we exercise our right to vote.