Stop gambling on Kentucky’s future


Rep. Adam Koenig must be betting that Kentuckians are stupid.

The northern Kentucky Republican is sponsoring legislation that would redefine poker and blackjack as games of skill, not gambling, even when big money is at stake.

Koenig’s bill could get a hearing in the House Licensing, Occupations and Regulations Committee on Wednesday. If it were to get through the entire legislative process and be signed into law, card tables could be set up in Kentucky alongside slot machines that have been redefined as instant racing games.

Exactly what Koenig and other gambling supporters are up to with this bill isn’t clear. Perhaps they believe Kentuckians will sit quietly by while they redefine gambling. Perhaps this legislation is nothing other than a vehicle for the legalization of full-fledged casinos.

Make no mistake, casino gambling would have serious consequences for this state. People hoping for quick money would lose everything. Lives would be destroyed. The cost of social services would far outpace any tax revenue the state might receive.

The average Kentuckian likely would have never seen senior citizens on fixed incomes bused to casinos with grand hopes of cashing in on huge jackpots only to leave with empty pockets. The average Kentuckian would be unfamiliar with the brokenness that comes to people from every walk of life who keep returning to the tables hoping for the big score that rarely comes. The average Kentuckian has no reason to ask police officers in casino towns how gambling has complicated their jobs, or to ask about the heartbreak witnessed by the pastors and social workers who do their best to restore broken lives.

The actual language in the legislation is ludicrous: “Card games such as poker in all of its varieties, and blackjack, also known as twenty-one (21), are deemed to be games of skill and shall not be considered to be gambling under this chapter.”

That may sound like a joke, but there’s nothing funny about it.

Gambling proponents have tried nearly every possible argument to get casinos into this state. The latest is the promise to use the tax revenue they’d generate to help restore solvency to the pension plans of government employees and retirees.

While shoring up public pensions is critical, it shouldn’t be done on the backs of the poor who stand to lose their last dimes hoping for better lives. And this ludicrous proposal from Koenig shouldn’t be part of the conversation.
Kentuckians aren’t stupid.


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