Guest Post: New Push for Gambling

By Ivan Zabilka

Sorting out the political rhetoric in a Kentucky gubernatorial campaign is Byzantine in nature.  Senate President David Williams, the Republican candidate, said last week that there were enough votes in the Senate to place casinos on the ballot a year from November.  He challenged the governor to get the Democratic controlled House to send up a bill.  He implied that the governor did not have control of his own party, and therefore lacked leadership.

Gov. Beshear responded that the House had not bothered to send up a bill because Williams would never allow it to come to a vote.  He did not say this time that he would allow the vote, just that the votes were there.  This, of course, ignored the fact that a sizable minority of rural Democrats oppose the expansion of gambling.

While only one of the candidates will be a winner, if the issue comes as a constitutional vote, the public will lose for sure.  Casino money will pour into the state to sway the vote, as has happened in other states.  Kentucky legislators can be swayed by campaign donations.  Can you imagine?  The standard joke during the Boptrot scandal of years past was that “Even you can own your own legislator for as little as $100.”

Not only will casino money pour in to influence voters and legislators, the casino corporations will buy up the tracks.  These will be willingly sold at great profit, with the exception of Churchill and Keeneland.  Two of the other tracks are already owned in whole or part by casinos. The casinos will spend money because they are going to make Kentuckians rich through casinos.  Right?

Kentuckians are poor enough that they are as susceptible as any other people to the magic lure of a hoped for jackpot.

About the Author: Ivan Zabilka is a retired educator and historian. He was a teacher and administrator at both the secondary and collegiate levels for 44 years. He has two theological degrees (M.Div. and Th.M.) from Asbury Theological Seminary and two degrees in U. S. History (M.A. and Ph.D.) from the University of Kentucky, with a specialty in the history of science. He has been an active opponent of gambling expansion since 1992 when he personally saw in his classroom the damage caused by gambling. He has three published books and numerous published articles in both history and about gambling. He is currently president of Citizens Against Gambling Expansion (KY), a board member of The Kentucky League on Alcohol and Gambling Problems, a member of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling, and a research consultant with The Family Foundation of Kentucky.

You can read more from Zabilka at his blog, The Gambling Notepad, at

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  • By Beshear overwhelming the God gap | Faith & Works on August 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    […] hasn’t come up much in the gubernatorial race, except perhaps with the gambling issue. But as this gambling opponent noted, the issue has been clouded by "Byzantine" politics because, while Beshear supports expanded […]

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