My position against gaming is well known, particularly in Frankfort.  Gaming lobbyists never waste time bringing it up to me.  Despite my personal, philosophical objection to the idea of gaming I'm still willing to have a learned discussion about it.  I'm open to hearing opposing view points.  My job as a legislator requires me to keep an open mind and weigh ideas.  If anyone who supports gaming ever came to me to talk about it I'd be happy to have that discussion, but unfortunately, so far, their arguments have failed even the slightest examination.  There are lots of questions gaming advocates haven't answered.  If they want it to pass, like advocates for any legislation, they must be prepared to answer the questions and own the results - good or bad.

A recent article in the New York Times discussed some of these questions in the context of a study done by a partnership of universities.  It's a short read that I highly recommend, regardless of your position.

The debate in Kentucky circles the often cited "let the people decide" sales pitch.  I posed to gaming supporters during the 2014 session the following hypothetical:  If we moved such a law forward, and put the gaming expansion matter on the ballot for voters to defeat or pass, would the gaming industry consent to spend just as much money advertising the woes of gaming as it does advertising it's merits?  Supporters conveniently fail to say out loud what everyone in state politics believes - the best ad campaign usually wins.  How many of you reading this believes the gaming industry would be outspent by those of us who oppose gaming?  Casinos made about $35 Billion in 2011. The Family Foundation and the Kentucky Baptist Convention don't exactly compete.

While I'm at it, here are a couple more questions that must be answered by the gaming industry:

  1. What portion of your patrons are in the middle and lower income groups of the communities/regions where the casino exists?

  2. What do you do to educate your patrons that you are taking steps to attract prolonged gaming? For example, do you inform them that slots are designed to entice more gaming (i.e., "near misses" and penny bets)?

  3. What financial information about patrons do you collect?

  4. How much do middle and low income gamblers lose as a percentage of their income?

  5. What impact do casinos have on existing businesses in the areas where they operate?

  6. Excluding management, what are the mean and median incomes for your job positions?

  7. What losses in revenue do churches and non-profits experience when a casino enters a region?

  8. Similarly, do churches and non-profits experience an increase in service requests and outreach in regions where you operate?

  9. What amount, if any, do you set aside to provide for financial education programming and does that programming use a curriculum that cautions against gaming habits? How do you make your patrons aware of the education programming?

 These are just a few to start with.  So far, I haven't had a conversation with a gaming supporter that didn't bring up a handful more that went unanswered.  I'm not holding my breath.