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Kentucky Anti-Gambling Group: Cost Outweights Benefits

Gambling brings social ills that will offset any tax revenue to Kentucky, argued a new group that rallied Wednesday in the Capitol Rotunda.

About 30 people joined the group Stop Predatory Gambling Kentucky for the rally, where speakers dismissed efforts in the General Assembly to expand gambling through casinos or Instant Racing.

Karen Hendersen, executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling Kentucky, warned that casinos create a burden to state funds in the form of gambling addiction treatment and family assistance programs.

"We have great promises that casinos or the lottery or instant racing will end up helping us out but the cost or the personal cost far outweighs any financial benefit," Hendersen said.

The group's members said that forms of rapid gambling—such as slot machines, keno, instant racing and the Kentucky Lottery—would have negative financial and social consequences for the impoverished in the state, and easily lend themselves to addiction.

The rally participants also watch a lengthy spot from 60 Minutes where the ex-mayor of San Diego talked to Diane Sawyer about a brain tumor that drove her toward a heroin-like addiction to slot machines.

John-Mark Hack, the organizations' guest speaker, was unable to provide an estimate of how many voters are concerned about this issue. But he said that the group is still working to build a strong and active base.

"I think that there is a substantial percentage of Kentuckians who are aware of both the predatory nature of what's being proposed with the expansion of gambling with slot machines and the predatory nature of the state lottery. And I think the anecdotal evidence is pretty abundant," Hack said.

A Courier-Journal poll in January found that 60 percent of Kentuckians support the concept of expanded gambling.

Currently, a bill which would legalize casino gambling in up to seven locations  is awaiting consideration in the Kentucky House, but isn't expected to pass this session. The House is considering also a bill that would put additional money to the state's underfunded pension system garnered through the Instant Racing game.

Reports from public radio stations in Kentucky.
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