PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Tonight was one of the biggest nights for Vegas, betting on the Super Bowl, and Kentucky lawmakers are expected to take up the issue of expanding gambling once again during this years general assembly.
A recent Bluegrass poll found more than 60 percent of Kentuckians are now in favor of gaming. Perhaps most surprisingly, 56 percent of people in Eastern Kentucky responded in favor of a gambling amendment. The poll's findings drew strong reaction from people we talked to on both sides of the issue.
Gaming proponents have long argued Kentucky has been losing tax revenue to border states like Indiana and Ohio, which allow casino gambling. State Representative Greg Stumbo estimates the Commonwealth is losing out on anywhere from 500 to 700 million dollars annually.
"If people can drive across a river and engage in this activity, and they take their dollars with them, it doesn't make any sense to me that we don't build something on thing on this side of the river and keep the dollars here in Kentucky," Stumbo said.
A recent poll by the Louisville Courier-Journal has found that more than 60 percent of Kentuckians, including a majority of people in Eastern Kentucky, now favor an amendment to legalize casino gambling.
"I'm a retired educator with the Floyd County schools, and if the proceeds go to help education, I have no problem with it," said Prestonsburg native Gary Frazier.
While polls suggest public opinion is shifting in favor of casino gambling, critics insist they would do more harm than good.
"It just doesn't work and the only people that make any money is the multi-million-dollar people that build he multi-million-dollar casinos. It's just common sense," said Michael Barnett, pastor of New Hope Church in Hazard.
With the majority of Kentuckians in favor of gaming, Representative Stumbo says the fate of the casino question lies with the state Senate.
The last time the General Assembly voted on the casino issue was in February of last year.
Republican Senator Daymon Thayer had introduced a bill that would have allowed voters to decide on an amendment to the state constitution, but it was voted down.