Legalizing sports gambling in Ky.

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Times have certainly changed when it comes to sports betting in the United States.

We remember the day when there were only a couple of places to put down a bet on a sporting contest. One was Vegas. The other was with some shadowy figure in the alley.

Today, it is far different.

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The unspoken reality in recent years is that anyone with a laptop and Internet service could bet themselves all the way to the poorhouse if they wanted to. Online gambling options have been, and are, unlimited in the largely unregulated world of online sports wagering. If you’ve got the money and the Internet, you can bet. Yet, in just the last year, sports gambling has gone truly mainstream in America in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision that flipped a longtime ban on sports betting. Several revenue-hungry states are now rushing to the proverbial goal line to get the sports books up and running. …

There is now a very significant push to legalize sports gambling in Kentucky. …

Any discussion about sports gambling must first start with the societal ramifications. We think there are a lot of comparisons in our mind between alcohol and sports gambling. Both can be intoxicating. It is also possible to do either responsibly. However, for some, either can be profoundly destructive. To accept legal sports wagering, society must also accept the ugly reality that a percentage of the population will destroy themselves with it. There is no way around this. It is a known fact. To us, then, if the Commonwealth is going to consider legalizing sports gambling, there should be a requirement that part of the revenues be assigned to preventing and treating those with problem gambling addictions.

We are, generally speaking, free market thinkers. We believe that humans are born of their own free will. We have choices. We can choose to be productive or we can choose to be self-destructive. … With that belief system we see this largely as an individual choice. If you are a responsible person and you want to place a bet on a sports contest, you should be able to do so. Is it a good idea? Probably not. But when push comes to shove we believe on endeavors like this, in a free market, you should have the option.

With this said, there are limitations. Some endeavors are so harmful to society that they should not be legalized. Illicit drugs is one example.

Government has a responsibility to look out for the greater good on these types of issues. On one front government has a regulatory responsibility to make sure contests are fair, legal, and like we said earlier, always mindful of the societal impact. The other place where government fits in is in providing the infrastructure and public safety necessary for the free market to function properly. This requires revenues, and everyone knows Kentucky is well short of revenues these days. One could argue that this proposal to legalize sports gambling makes sense on the monetary front alone considering how much revenue Kentucky could bring in. We think it is a part of the equation, and that any legislation legalizing sports gambling should make sure the revenues generated for the state are specifically designated to what needs funding. It could be education. It could be pensions. It could be infrastructure. It can’t, however, be the general fund. There has to be a purpose in mind if this is legalized.

In conclusion, we are not opposed to legalizing sports gambling in Kentucky if it is done thoughtfully, with purpose, and with the greater societal good in mind. If that is not possible, then we shouldn’t do it.

Truth be told, Kentuckians committed to gambling on sports are going to do it whether Kentucky legalizes it or not. If we do legalize it, it needs to be done right.

The Independent of Ashland