Governor's Race Spurs Gaming Showdown

By: Ryan Dearbone Email
By: Ryan Dearbone Email

Steve Beshear, a Lexington attorney and son of a baptist preacher, made gambling the focus of his Gubernatorial primary campaign, but incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher said he doesn't endorse legalizing gambling in Kentucky. Although, Fletcher was careful to say that he would not stand in the way of voters deciding for themselves.

John Bryant sits with his friend at the Kentucky Downs racetrack, hoping that his bet will pan out. Bryant said he would be in favor of Kentucky getting legalized gaming.

"I think its great! Everybody's got their own opinion but I think its great," Bryant said.

He's not the only one. Officials at Kentucky Downs said adding slot machines to the state will help keep businesses like theirs afloat, because other states are adding gaming and becoming competition for Kentucky horse racing.

"If we continue to lag behind here in Kentucky, it'll be harder and harder for us to attract horses and to keep the signature industry at the level that its at," said Ryan Driscoll, Kentucky Downs general manager .

However, Minister David Hamilton of Franklin Church of Christ said gambling is about a whole lot more.

"Its all about money. Its all about personal gain. Its all about covetousness, or greed, or wanting something for nothing or something for very little," Hamilton said.

Those who are in favor of legalized gambling say if you look around, its already here. Along with racetracks and the Kentucky Lottery, Bingo parlors can be found throughout the state, but according to Hamilton, adding expanded gaming to the state only creates more problems.

"We've got enough problems in this community from gambling. Folks that are addicted to gambling. Folks that use crime to pay off gambling debts and other things like that," Hamilton said.

Still, Bryant believes there are things much worse than a slot machine or a Blackjack table.

"There's a lot of addictions. If you're going to stop gambling, you might as well stop alcohol, drugs, everything else," he said.

In the end, Bryant said he's waiting to see who wins the bet on gaming in Kentucky.

Though differing on the issue, Hamilton and Bryant agree that over the next few months, there must be dialog about gaming's positive and negative effects on the state. Bryant said he's in favor of giving the issue to the people to vote on during an election.

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