Family Foundation's Policy Analyst David Edmunds in today's Courier-Journal:
Third World Gambling Revolution
At a recent expanded gambling rally, a former governor referred to Senate President David Williams as a third world dictator and incited the crowd to “revolution.”
But even though the first shots heard in this revolution were heard in Lexington, they bear little resemblance to the first shots heard in the other Battle of Lexington over 200 years ago. The first battle culminated in the writing of a constitution. This battle is about overturning one.
The angry slots mob is rallying to change Kentucky government into a one-party machine. Through political intimidation and big-time donations from casino interests, pro-gambling Democrats currently have control of the Governor’s office and the State House. Now they want control over the Senate.
Rep. Carl Rollins (D) upped the rally rhetoric saying, “[Sen.] Kathy Stein had her two dogs here. That was in case David Williams showed up. She was going to chase his sorry ass all the way home.”
Apparently it’s not just dogs foaming at the mouth.
Like revolutionary rallies in some other countries, these rallies feature bussed-in workers in their horse track uniforms, who, after undoubtedly clocking in for the purpose, dutifully cheer on the speakers.
It’s a spectacle of which Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro would be proud.
One-party revolutions often benefit those at the top to the detriment of common laborers. If track-owners really wanted to help the rank and file, why not consider the Senate plan to boost purses and breeding incentives without slots? Tracks have refused because they are coveting a much bigger pay-off than just improved racing from enhanced purses. Making slot machines legal is the ultimate jackpot in separating a gambler from his money without the overhead of hay farmers, horse farmers, farriers, jockeys, or grooms.
One-party revolutions also need a complicit media. WHAS radio host Francene has been happy to oblige, filling the airwaves daily with pro-slots propaganda. When asked whether the opponents of slots could articulate the other side of the issue, she responded “There aren’t two sides of the issue.” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with his penchant for authoritarian control of media would be smiling. As a Fox News affiliate, WHAS may have to change their tag line to “Fair and Balanced- except for Francene.”
Absent from media discussion of the issue is that the Senate allowed for a fair committee hearing on the slots bill, allowing both sides to testify. It was defeated on its merits. Williams did not employ procedural obstruction, yet the C-J, filled with the spirit of revolution, perpetuates this myth of Williams as dictator, calling him: “Ayatollah Williams.”
Legislators voting against slots will lose bags of cash from gambling interests, will likely face racino-financed opponents, and will certainly not get the kind of perks slots supporters can expect, like school building funds and Derby box seats.
The pro-slots revolutionaries don’t want Kentuckians to know there is no payoff for a legislator voting “no” on slots other than a clear conscience and the support of anti-gambling voters.
Legislators voting “yes” on slots are turning over the reigns of state government to gambling interests. To achieve the slot revenue of $796 million at a pay-out rate competitive with Indiana’s, gambling operators would control or “handle” over 9 billion dollars—more money than all of state government handles! With this type of financial stranglehold, the gambling revolutionaries can manipulate every aspect of state government.
Citizens have always feared the power gambling operators could wield in manipulating legislators. House members who voted “yes” on slots, have given ammunition to this one-party revolution and have been fooled if they believe that a Kentucky, led by only pro-gambling Democrats will advocate for the values that Kentuckians hold dear. This revolution will result in a quagmire of bloated government controlled by gambling bosses.
Remove the propaganda, personal attacks, and strong-arm tactics and the slot machine revolution is left with little more than poor public policy rooted in greed.