"Now a lot of the folks who were adamant against it have looked at it and said, 'Wow we made a mistake.'" -Jerry Finn, Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County
For nearly two decades legislators in Frankfort have debated the thought of casino gaming. But what if it passed all the necessary hurdles and became legal? New Albany, Indiana is a community where a casino has been in place for more than a decade and the effects it truly has are now visible.
In the state of Indiana there are fewer restrictions and casinos are welcome. Just across the Ohio River from Louisville, in Harrison County, Indiana sits the Horseshoe Casino. The casino opened to much opposition locally but officials assured the community they would see an economic impact.
"I do see occasionally where they make some contributions to some organizations. I don't doubt that they have good motives there. I have not seen tremendous economic impact really either way. I can't speak to that." said Pastor Scott Miller of Graceland Baptist Church.
The Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County which is affiliated with the casino says otherwise. They've contributed $46,000,000 to southern Indiana since 1999, including a state of the art YMCA in downtown New Albany.
"By locating this facility downtown rather than somewhere out in the suburbs, it has really rejuvenated downtown. Literally, hundreds of business have developed since then." said Jerry Finn of the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County.
It may only be a body of water but the Ohio River separates the state of Indiana from the commonwealth of Kentucky. It seems pretty simple, but in fact things get very complicated. Often times the river divides commerce and in this instance that means casino gaming.
"Too often that river seems as a great divide as opposed to a nice piece of our landscape. It keeps us apart rather than looking at how it can unite us." added Finn.
"I'm from Kentucky then moved here to Indiana. I'm sorry Kentucky doesn't have it because they're losing so much tax revenue. The tax revenue going out of my state makes me sick. Because of the horses they've not done it and it's a shame that Governor Beshear can't really talk them into doing that." added real estate agent Pat Harrison.
Real estate was once thought to boom when the casino arrived but agents say that hasn't been the case. It's just one of many issues that have sparked debate concerning the facility. Perhaps none have been more controversial than the one of morals and ethics.
"They believed you were going to have drugs everywhere, you were going to have a prostitute on every corner, you were going to have crime. The whole thing was built up. Now, a lot of the folks who were adamant against it have looked at it and said, 'Wow we made a mistake.'" commented Finn.
"I've spoken with some who are addicted to gambling. I've watched the negative impacts there. For me personally I struggle with that issue. Anything that controls a life and can lead to hurt and pain especially when it comes to families, I recommend people avoid." added Miller.
This debate is similar to debates in Frankfort; but so far no bill or amendment has picked up enough steam to over come the hurdle needed for any measure to hit the ballots in November. So is casino gaming good for the commonwealth or detrimental? Whether we like it or not, the debate will most certainly rage on. In 2012, the state senate voted down a bill that would have put the decision up to the voters. In 2013, neither a bill nor constitutional amendment was brought to the table. Kentuckians must do as they've done for the past two decades ... wait.