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
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!