This is the kind of moral arrogance that has turned much of America against religious extremists. It's also the height of hypocrisy to single out casino gaming without also opposing all the other legal products and activities that lead to addiction, depravity, moral decay, crime, health costs, and the destruction of families.
Yes, I'm talking about alcohol, tobacco products, pari-mutuel wagering, lotteries, and credit-card abuse. From a strictly logical and moral standpoint, how can anybody approve of those products and endeavors, tacitly or otherwise, but draw the line at casino gaming?
Consider, if you will, the current debate over again raising Kentucky's cigarette tax. Out of one side of their mouths, the proponents of a higher tax say they are trying to discourage the usage of tobacco products by making them cost-prohibitive. But out of the other side of their mouths, they talk about the increased revenue the commonwealth would get from increased taxes on cigarettes.
So do the politicians really want Kentuckians to stop smoking or not? If they do, they should be advocating a bill that would make the production and sale of tobacco products illegal in Kentucky. Isn't that the proper ethical and moral thing to do?
But that's not going to happen because (a) they realize that state government is addicted to the revenue from cigarette sales, and (b) the abolition of cigarettes in Kentucky would only drive our citizens to cross our borders to buy their cigarettes - just as our gamblers now cross our borders in droves, every day and night, to gamble at the casinos in our neighboring states.
To this day, no legal product is responsible for more broken homes and families, more spouse and child abuse, and more deaths and addiction than alcohol. The ancestors of the Just Say No to Casinos crowd had their way about alcohol in 1919, when Congress passed the Volstead Act that prohibited the production and sale of alcohol.
All that Prohibition succeeded in doing was creating organized crime and driving up the homicide rates in larger cities. If anything, it created more of a thirst for alcohol instead of stopping it. In 1933, Congress finally had to admit defeat and repeal the Volstead Act.
Moral of the story: People always will find a way to indulge their vice of choice, be it alcohol, tobacco, gambling, drugs, or sex. So at least in the areas of alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, government might as well legalize it, regulate it, and tax the bejeezus out of it. That's what our neighboring states do.
It's embarrassing to think that Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia are more enlightened than Kentucky.
Kentuckians need to widen their horizons and beginning thinking of their place in the global economy.
In today's world, geographical barriers are virtually meaningless. Just as Northern Kentucky is part of Greater Cincinnati, so is Southern Indiana part of Greater Louisville and Evansville, Ind., part of Greater Henderson (or vice-versa).
Looking at it that way, Kentucky already has casino gambling, a fact that Hack conveniently ignored when he brought up Louisville's West End. When he said that "the West End of Louisville cannot afford another addiction," it was hard to imagine that his audience didn't laugh out loud. Because of Caesar's Indiana, casino gambling has been a fact of life in all of Louisville for a dozen years.
It has been estimated that Kentuckians gamble more than $1 billion a year at casinos in our neighboring states. No doubt some of these Kentuckians become so addicted to gambling that they might lose their families, homes, and jobs. When that happens, they don't seek treatment in the states where they gambled. They seek it at home.