Opposition Fires Volley in Slots Issue

Let’s be clear on this. Most people in Kentucky won’t really be affected if a few of the state’s racetracks offer slot machines as a way to gamble. It’s one of those issues, like watching certain shows on TV, that you can choose to ignore if you want.

But opponents of slots aren’t going to allow state government to pass slots legislation without a fight. Yesterday, Kent Ostrander of the Family Foundation made the media rounds threatening to sue before the first slot machine is installed at Churchill Downs.

Meanwhile, KEEP is putting on the pressure with a statewide ad campaign. There are dire predictions for the horse racing industry. A forecasting group is expected to announce today that there will a $1 billion state budget deficit. Really dramatic cuts are coming, and they will include layoffs.

The state is running out of options, given the absolute refusal to raise taxes.   We’ve been talking about this for 15 years, and haven’t really made any progress. It’s time for the state to do something.

8 thoughts on “Opposition Fires Volley in Slots Issue

  1. Two points:

    1) The opposition to expanded gaming doesn’t just come from the bible thumpers, or the right. It also comes from the left, from those who don’t like gambling’s effects on the poor. And it also comes from the center, who believe that gambling is unproductive false economy, and that government and the horse industry should become more creative about ways to enhance revenues.

    2) The horse industry’s campaign is not merely through commercials. They are also getting corporate news outlets to produce so-called news reports heavily, if not totally biased in their favor. News outlets like WHAS are hardly letting any of the opposition voice their viewpoints, and when they do, they pretend that it’s only the bible thumpers who oppose it, as if the only reasons to oppose it are morality-based.

  2. I don’t care who you are or what “side” you represent, I find it hilarious that we are even debating adding gambling to a gambling facility. WHO CARES? You are saying I can stand at a window and give a person $5 on a bloody horse but I can’t turn around and stick $5 in a stupid slot machine? We have horse racing, lottery tickets, Indiana and a little something called “The Internet” that will all let you piss your money away if you want.
    There are very few things people outside of Kentucky know about our state, one is Churchill Downs. Just about every time we have out-of-town guests visit they want to go see Churchill Downs. Now I will have to explain to them that we let it go under because we didn’t want gambling at a horse track.

  3. There may be some opposition that’s not morality based, but most of the push against it comes from the thumpers through politicians who are eager to pander to them. Magruder – exactly what creative ways to enhance revenues would you suggest to the Downs? They seem to be pretty creative already and it’s not enough. They need to enhance the gambling to entice more gamblers from other venues. This opposition to gambling has been used as a wedge issue and is just an adjunct to gays, guns and god tactics that have held the state back for years.

  4. Since I’m running for mayor, maybe I should make this an issue.

    As a long time Churchill fan, I can vouch for the fact that the races there are getting less and less competitive and have smaller fields.

    As has been written elsewhere (or maybe here) other states WITH casino gaming are able to offer better purses, which is more attractive, especially in a risky industry.

    Churchill could fancy up, offer better facilities, lower food prices, and everything else, but at the end of the day, it would be a bit like making the world’s greatest 8-Track player. If you can’t get the product (quality horses in number) to run multiple races a day, the track cannot make profits like it used to or like other gambling facilities.

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