CITIZEN: In 2021, the General Assembly attempted to unslot slot machines despite court rulings

OPINION: So, what happened? One gambling industry lawyer put it this way: We can do anything we want.

By Stan Cave, TFF Attorney

Casinos are popping up all over Kentucky, some at race tracks and some not. Kentucky casinos host thousands of slot machines and billions of dollars in wagering. They openly prey on Kentucky families with no meaningful regulatory oversight and pay virtually no tax revenue to Kentucky, now in serious financial distress from inattention to public pensions.

Kentucky’s legislative leaders ushered in slot machines – the most predatory and addictive form of gambling – along with a colossal policy debacle after an 11-year court case in which The Family Foundation won not once, but twice, in the Kentucky Supreme Court with unanimous Opinions each time.

So, what happened? One gambling industry lawyer put it this way: We can do anything we want.

With contempt for the Constitution and the Rule of Law, a bill which purported to legalize slot-machines (SB 120) passed both chambers of the legislature in nine days. Within 48 hours of the gambling bill being introduced, it was reported favorably from a committee 100% stacked with pro-gambling legislators. Within six days, the gambling bill passed the full Senate (22-15). In the next 48 hours, the gambling bill would pass the full House (55-38).

Without a vote of the people, the legislature rammed through a statutory definition of slot machines as pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing. In other words, the legislature tried to unslot slot machines. President Lincoln once said that calling a dog’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg… no matter what Congress calls it.

Another lawsuit would be required to find SB 120 unconstitutional.

The power of the gambling industry should never be underestimated. On a related note, the Governor let casinos remain open during the pandemic but sent police to close churches.

The gambling industry lawyer was probably right. . . They can do anything they want.


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