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Conference Opposes Expansion of Legalized Gambling14 Jan

Governor Beshear

Governor Beshear has announced plans to seek passage of legislation to expand gambling in Kentucky to help fund state government by asking voters to support an amendment to our Constitution that would allow this increase in gambling. Work continues between the State Senate and the Governor’s office to write the legislation.  In addition, several bills have already been filed in the House for similar purposes: HB 45, to create a new section of the Constitution of Kentucky; HB 46, related to casino gambling; and HB 140, to expand gambling without passing a Constitutional amendment.

Call 1-800-372-7181 and ask legislators to oppose all efforts to expand gambling in our Commonwealth. Or send a prepared email message to your legislators by clicking here.

Conference Position

The Catholic Conference of Kentucky has a long-standing commitment to oppose amending the state Constitution to allow for the expansion of gambling in the Commonwealth or to expand it through other legislation. While proponents point to economic benefits, it is our belief that the state must also consider the consequences, namely the potential for destroyed lives, increased crime and other social ills.

Rationale

Picture of CatechismThe Catholic Church teaches that gambling is a morally neutral act and that games of chance “are not in themselves contrary to justice” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2413). However, the Catechism also warns that “the passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement” and becomes morally unacceptable when it deprives an individual of what is necessary to provide for his/her needs and those of others.

When gambling as a revenue stream becomes overly prevalent in a society, the risks associated with problem gambling multiply. With their flashing lights, free-flowing alcoholic drinks, all-night hours and generally intoxicating atmosphere, casinos are more likely than other gambling options to lead to bad decisions and catastrophic losses for patrons, particularly those prone to problem or compulsive gambling.

In collaboration with the Kentucky Council of Churches and others “we are united in our belief that greed for unearned monetary gain destroys individuals and eventually corrodes the fabric of social trust upon which civic life must rely.” (KENTUCKY COUNCIL OF CHURCHES, Resolution Against Gambling Casinos
Adopted at the 46th Annual Assembly, October 14-15, 1993)

Any number of studies point to the harmful effects that result in expanding the opportunities to gamble, especially among low-income persons and those who suffer from gambling addiction. A 2009 study in Connecticut found an increase in employment and revenues, but also a 400 percent increase in embezzlement arrests, a doubling of driving while intoxicated arrests, and an increase in personal bankruptcies in areas where the state’s two Indian casinos are located. The data is clear that proximity to casinos in general and predatory slot machines in particular increases addiction rates, and casinos derive at least 60% of their revenues from problem gamblers.

When looking at potential sources for new revenue, it is the responsibility of government to consider the consequences. Continued expansion of gambling will be devastating to individuals and families.

We cannot improve the conditions of our low-income sisters and brothers by throwing away some of them to lives of addiction to predatory gambling. The Catholic Conference of Kentucky continues to support the resolution of the Kentucky Council of Churches in which it states the following:

For the Christian, the common good, therefore, must be established by just and honest means. In a democratic society, government must persuade its citizens to support with their taxes the programs the citizens believe will be instrumental in nurturing and protecting all members of society and efficacious for productive economy and just relations among all residents of that political entity.

Therefore, we invite members of the Catholic community to call 1-800-372-7181 and ask legislators to oppose all efforts to expand gambling in our Commonwealth.

Photos: Governor of Kentucky website; USCCB Publishing

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