Monday, June 23, 2008

Spinning Kentucky's games of chance

Casino legislation will never pass in Kentucky as long as the two big groups pushing it both stay at the table. The horse industry people want to maximize new revenue for the horse industry with casinos at the tracks and the big government people want to maximize revenue for the state.

The key word is "maximize" and both groups can't get what they want at the same time. That doesn't stop Lexington Herald Leader columnist Larry Dale Keeling from trying again:

"Kentucky needs to expand its gambling options. Keeping our signature racing industry competitive with states where purses and breeding incentives are supplemented by revenue from casinos and racinos is one of the big reasons such expansion is justified. Slots Bill could do that.

But staying competitive at our tracks and on our breeding farms isn't the sole reason we need expanded gambling.

Kentucky needs more revenue, at state and local levels, to pay for education, health care, social services, public protection and all the other services we expect our government to deliver."

What's funny is the same people who make the case for higher cigarette taxes because of sick smokers who wind up on the dole don't want to talk about casino gamblers who game themselves onto welfare unless it is in the context of creating a government bureaucracy that takes the first half of the gambling house's cut.

Perhaps when "health advocates" and "casinos 'for the children'" supporters can agree to cut or eliminate welfare payments to people who willingly smoke or gamble their way to dependency, we might wind up with cleaner air and a more robust tourism and entertainment industry.

Then again, if we keep banning private business owners from allowing smoking in their buildings, all bets are off. Something for the big government people to -- I hope -- think about.

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