In a radio interview Wednesday morning, Gov. Matt Bevin claimed that “every night somewhere in America” someone dies by suicide in a casino.
Bevin was arguing against a proposal to legalize casino gambling in Kentucky, which is supported by his opponent in this year’s race for governor, Andy Beshear.
Bevin made the comment during an interview on WKDZ in Cadiz.
“Every night somewhere in America somebody takes their life in a casino because they’ve wasted the last semblance of dignity and hope that they had,” Bevin said. “Families are ruined, lives are ruined. There is societal cost.”
Bevin provided no evidence for the claim. A request for comment from his office was not immediately returned.
Bevin has long opposed expanding gambling in Kentucky, calling it a “suckers bet” and dismissing arguments that it could raise revenue for the state’s cash-strapped pension system.
For years, casino gambling has been proposed as a solution to Kentucky’s budget woes. Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear made it a major part of his platforms during both of his gubernatorial races, though the proposal has never made it out of the legislature.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers proposed a casino gambling bill in the Kentucky legislature last year, estimating that it would raise between $250 million and $1 billion in its first year.
During the WKDZ interview, Bevin dismissed predictions of how much money gambling would raise for the state.
“The only way that we can solve this problem that we have is to have more people living in Kentucky paying taxes, that’s it,” Bevin said.
The Courier Journal revealed in 2015 that despite Bevin’s opposition to gambling, the investment firm he used to work for heavily invested in gambling companies.
Beshear, Kentucky’s attorney general and Democratic opponent in this year’s race for governor, has said he supports allowing casino gambling and sports betting. On his website he says that he would use the revenue from taxing the activities as a dedicated funding stream for the pension system.
Kentucky already permits some forms of gambling like betting on horse races. In 2019, the state collected $14,578,083 from taxes on race betting.
According to a 2015 Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting story, Kentucky’s neighboring states of Ohio, Illinois and Indiana collectively brought in $3.9 billion in taxes from casinos on the Ohio River over 10 years.