If something is illegal, the law should be enforced. If a potentially addictive activity is unregulated, there should be oversight. These are common sense positions advocated by the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling (KYCPG).
The issues of gambling legality, regulation and responsibility will be addressed by the Kentucky General Assembly during its 2023 session. Already, House Bill 106 was introduced to legalize sports gambling. The bill does not include language regarding problem and addicted gambling. KYCPG believes that is irresponsible. Any legislation to expand gambling must recognize the addictive potential of the activity and include provisions to mitigate the negative consequences.
At its most recent Board meeting, KYCPG adopted the following motion: “KYCPG issue a statement of opposition to illegal, untaxed and unregulated gambling and also oppose any gambling expansion legislation that does not provide for problem and addicted gambling education, prevention and treatment as irresponsible to the public.”
“It’s a simple position, really,” KYCPG Executive Director Michael R. Stone explained. “It is basic civics and fairness. If something is illegal, take action to stop it. If there is confusion, clarify it. If something requires regulation to protect the public, establish oversight. These are basic roles of governing.
“From a human standpoint, if something is addictive and the government profits from it with tax collections, fines and fees, and transfer payments, it is ethical to use a portion of the profit to educate the public of the potential dangers and provide help to treat the addiction. Tobacco use is legal; it is addictive; it is taxed; and pubic funds are directed toward smoking cessation programs. The same logic should be true with gambling.”
Published opinion columns and testimony before a General Assembly interim committee indicate there will be legislation to clarify the legality or illegality of “gray” or “skill” machines, the slot-machine-like gambling devices being located in convenience stores and social venues. If they are deemed legal, there must be regulation to protect the public from underage use and transparent payout percentages.
Some label the gray machine as an exercise in skill. KYCPG doesn’t judge the skill level needed to participate, just as it does not judge the skill level needed to play poker or handicap horse races. All are forms of gambling, which is defined as placing something of value at risk (money in this case), on an irreversible result determined in whole or in part by chance.
KYCPG is a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase awareness of problem gambling, promote prevention and research, and advocate for the availability of treatment. KYCPG’s governing documents prohibit the Council from taking a position for or against gambling legislation. Gambling exists. KYCPG is dedicated to helping the problem gambler and his or her family. KYCPG will not advocate for passage of legislation either to expand or prohibit gambling.
KYCPG does analyze proposed legislation, and will consider legislation responsible only if it provides for public problem and addicted gambling education, prevention and treatment services. Otherwise, it is not responsible to the public.
The Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to increase awareness of problem gambling, promote prevention and research, and advocate for the availability of treatment. KYCPG is supported by memberships and donations. Corporate members include Churchill Downs, Inc (Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Turfway Park, Newport Racing and Gaming, Oak Grove Racing Gaming and Hotel, Derby City Gaming, and TwinSpires); Keeneland Race Course; The Mint (formerly Kentucky Downs); The Red Mile; The Kentucky Lottery Corporation; KRM Wagering; and Caesars Southern Indiana.
Members of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling Board of Directors are President, Director of Education and NCPG Representative RonSonLyn Clark, Psy.D., Owensboro; Treasurer Michael Townsend, Crestwood; Secretary Sara Westerman, Crestwood; Professional Adviser Curtis L. Barrett, Ph.D., Prospect; John Arnett, Florence; Jim Blackerby, Lexington; Dennis Boyd, Louisville; Scott Hunt, Ph.D., Richmond; Gerrimy Keiffer, Owensboro; and Patrick Malarkey, Louisville.
When It’s No Longer Fun – There Is Help.
If you or someone you know thinks there is a gambling problem, please call or text 1-800-GAMBLER.
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