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Catholic Conference Clarifies and Reaffirms its

Opposition to Gaming Expansion

Frankfort, KY (April 5, 2002) -  As the Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, the public policy arm of the Roman Catholic bishops in the Commonwealth, I accept responsibility for what appears to be an inconsistent position on the expansion of gambling in this state. Allowing CCK’s public endorsement of House Bill 743 in its present form was a regrettable oversight and CCK staff is working to amend the bill.

As Executive Director it is part of my job to review and evaluate legislation pending before the General Assembly. The Catholic Conference operates in two modes, proactive and reactive. When operating reactively, the Catholic Conference reviews proposed legislation for its potential impact in a range of ways. For example, the Conference monitors the state budget for its impact on persons enrolled in the Medicaid program. When operating proactively, the Catholic Conference works with both the executive and legislative branches of state government in shaping policy recommendations. Conference staff is often invited to participate in task forces and work groups, the recommendations of which often result in legislative proposals.

In 1992, Kentuckians overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment allowing charitable gaming for non-profit organizations and state regulation of their activities. Since that time, the Catholic Conference has worked closely with the state’s Department of Charitable Gaming to assure accountability and compliance. Because a significant number of the charitable gaming license holders in Kentucky are Roman Catholic parishes, we have often been consulted by Commissioner Ray Franklin as a sounding board for regulatory issues under consideration.

The Conference served in such capacity for several months prior to the 2002 session as the Department and the Charitable Gaming Advisory Commission drafted House Bill 743. Conference staff supported Commissioner Franklin, his Department and the Charitable Gaming Advisory Board in what we viewed as an important effort to create a forward looking Commission, not unlike like many other government agencies, with authority to implement gaming standards and modernizing accounting practices.

To those who question the Catholic Conference's support of House Bill 743 despite its lack of funding for problem gambling programs, I direct them to Representative Jack Coleman's House Bill 203 to fund treatment of compulsive disorders which has been withering on the Appropriations and Revenue Committee vine since January. Representative Coleman has had the support of the Conference since filing House Bill 203, but it has gone nowhere.

CCK staff erred by not identifying and immediately opposing the portion of House Bill 743 which raises the limit on prize payouts to bingo players and adds a progressive game option. CCK staff recognized the excess of bill and has been actively engaged in seeking to scale back the gaming expansion provisions of House Bill 743. We remain committed to working with the bill’s sponsor and the Department of Charitable Gaming to amending the bill to create a version that does not include any gaming expansion. Addressing the long-term needs of charities, Catholic or not, relying on charitable gaming remains an important goal of House Bill 743.

The Catholic Conference’s commitment to oppose any gaming expansion includes charitable gaming. As Executive Director, I apologize for causing disappointment to those Kentuckians who share this opposition and may have been confused by this apparent inconsistency. In no way will the Catholic community lobby to expand charitable gaming and at the same time oppose slots at the tracks or any place else. And I am learning firsthand the meaning of the expression that the devil is in the details!

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Catholic Conference of Kentucky

1042 Burlington Lane

Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

502-875-4345 502-875-2841 Fax cckstaffATccky.org

Last modified: October, 2010