Thursday, October 25, 2007

We're Already Giving Away Stuff To Friends

Supporters of casino gambling like to say Kentuckians are already gambling so it should be no big deal to open casinos here.

Such reasoning ignores a lot, but Caleb Brown makes an interesting point I haven't seen addressed elsewhere:

Beshear needs to clarify sooner rather than later that expanded gambling will not result in a massive giveaway to Churchill Downs or other tracks.

Some proponents of licensing casinos at racetracks claim that the horse industry needs financial help. Even if we take that dubious assertion at face value -- horses constitute a billion dollar industry in Kentucky -- giving a free casino license to Churchill Downs won't do much for the parts of the industry not owned by Churchill Downs, Inc.

If Beshear would like to remain free of accusations that he's a pawn of a large corporate interest, he should instead pledge to use some revenues raised through the auction of casino licenses to eliminate pari-mutuel taxes and burdensome levies associated with horse breeding and farming.

While the projected revenue versus costs calculation only starts to make sense if the state's take is significantly more than double the often-proposed one-third, the idea of just giving away a value worth hundreds of millions of dollars so narrowly is yet another bad part of Beshear's gambling scheme.