KY Catholic Conference says nearly 250,000 Kentuckians are problem gamblers or at risk to be

02/20/2012 08:08 AM

The Catholic Conference of Kentucky is gearing up to curtail legislative support for the constitutional amendment to allow expanded gambling and says nearly a quarter of a million Kentuckians are either problem gamblers or at-risk.

“We strongly OPPOSE this proposal because Kentucky should not tie itself to an unreliable, regressive revenue stream and because professional gambling will have a profoundly harmful effect on many of those persons we serve who live in poverty,” said a letter signed by Rev. Patrick Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference.

Delahanty wrote that he was writing on behalf of Kentucky’s four bishops and the 400,000 Catholics in the state and would be lobbying against the proposed constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling when it comes up before the Senate state government committee on Wednesday.

Delahanty wrote that the church doesn’t oppose gambling on moral grounds. Instead, the Catholic leaders argue that casinos are “more likely than other gambling options to lead to bad decisions and catastrophic losses for patrons.”

The letter cites a University of Kentucky Survey Research Center study that estimated that 0.3 percent of adult Kentuckians are compulsive gamblers, 1.7 percent are problem gamblers and another 6.2 percent are at-risk to become compulsive gamblers. Based on those estimates, Delahanty wrote, a total of 249,000 Kentuckians are compulsive or problem gamblers or at risk.

“Senate Bill 151 is not a dream but a nightmare that is regressive in nature as a revenue source,” Delahanty wrote. He also will be circulating to lawmakers on Wednesday an article written by the Herald-Leader’s John Cheves that outlines how states that allow casinos didn’t fare any better during the recession that other states.

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