Some Kentucky elected officials are again becoming stimulated by the possibility of expanded gambling as a panacea for the commonwealth’s budget challenges.
This state of mind is being exacerbated by Ohio’s decision to approve casinos in four populated areas. Ohio did it because Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania did it.
William Thompson, a University of Nevada-Las Vegas professor and casino expert, says the odds of gambling revenues filling state budget holes are not great. In Ohio:
– Half the gamblers must be from out of state for it to work.
– Compulsive gamblers steal, lose jobs, have debts and go on welfare.
– A casino within 50 miles of a community doubles the rate of compulsive gambling.
– Troubled gamblers exact a social cost of about $10,000 each.
– The price tag of additional social costs could reach more than $800 million.
Kentucky leaders, like their Ohio counterparts, face a choice between fantasy-like windfall revenues from gambling or making really tough spending decisions.
Delaying the difficult decisions will only make a bad budget situation worse. Only wine gets better with age.