Milburn Delivers Public Affairs Report

In this video, Kentucky Baptist Convention Committee on Public Affairs Chairman Kevin Milburn delivers the 2011 report to messengers attending the KBC Annual Meeting at Florence Baptist Church at Mt. Zion on Nov. 15, 2011.

Here’s the written version of his report as it appeared in the 2011 KBC Book of Reports:

Committee on Public Affairs

Unfortunately, as has been the case for a number of years, this report will once again be dominated by a discussion of attempts to expand gambling in Kentucky. After failing repeatedly for a number of years to win approval for opening casinos, bring slot machines into the Commonwealth or to place a referendum on the ballot for voter approval, the gambling industry has now sought the back door route to accomplishing its goal.

On Sept. 1, the Kentucky Downs racetrack in Franklin unilaterally expanded gambling without legislative or voter approval by opening a new gambling parlor with 200 “instant racing” machines. This action was approved by the governor-appointed Kentucky Racing Commission.

The racetrack is trying to claim that these machines are somehow “parimutuel” games (which are legal in Kentucky) because users are really just betting on old horse races when they push the button. However, anyone who has seen these games can see that these are actually slot machines. With names like “Cash Carnival,” “Wild West Willy’s Lucky Draw” and “Cruising for Cash,” it is obvious that the games have very little, if anything, to do with horseracing. The racetrack is also claiming that even though the horses that patrons are betting on with the machines may be long dead, it a “live” race, as required by the pari-mutuel betting statutes, because the race “seems live” to the patron.

At the time of this writing, the question of the whether the machines are legal is awaiting a ruling by the Kentucky Court of Appeals after the racing commission’s decision to allow them was challenged by The Family Foundation of Kentucky. There has yet to be a ruling in that case and all other racetracks in the state have decided that they had better wait for a ruling before moving forward with their own machines.

One of the ironic things about these machines is that they are being installed under the banner of helping “save” horse racing. In the long run, however, any kind of casino-type expansion of gambling is likely to only speed the demise of this sport as gamblers move from the relatively slow pace of betting on the horses to the fast-paced, machine-driven gambling that empties pockets much more quickly. As this Committee has said before, expanded gambling is bad for the economy, bad for state government and bad for the people of Kentucky.

The other issue of great concern to the Committee on Public Affairs at this time is the continued expansion of alcohol. At the time of this writing, 81 of Kentucky’s 120 counties have some form of alcohol sales and state government has now moved to get in the game by also allowing alcohol sales at state parks. These parks are Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, and Lake Barkley State Resort Park in Cadiz.

Unfortunately, alcohol use has now become so pervasive in American society that most people — including many Kentucky Baptists — may not blink twice at this expansion, even though alcohol is a dangerous and highly addictive drug.  Each time we expand the number of places where alcohol is sold, we also expand the potential for damage to individuals and families.

As we approach a time when our General Assembly will once again be in session, we encourage Kentucky Baptists to pay attention to the issues that are impacting our Commonwealth. One of the primary reasons moral decline is so rapidly overtaking our culture is that Christians are failing to stand (or even taking the time to make a simple phone call) for what is right.

Pastors, the people in your congregations will follow your lead. Please be a courageous voice for morality and good public policy in your community.

One of the tools, the Committee on Public Affairs uses to keep you informed is our blog at www.kbcpublicaffairs.com. Please visit this site and sign up to receive the latest posts by e-mail so that you can stay alert to what is happening in Frankfort. Legislation can move quickly during the legislative session and you cannot always count on the mainstream news media to keep you posted on issues that may be of concern to Kentucky Baptists.

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