Gambling we need a better answer

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My Views

By Stephen Thomas

As a standing member of the Bullitt County community I, as much as anyone else, want the best for this area and everyone in it.

Bullitt County has problems just like any other area. Some problems are the same in other places. Some are unique to us.

In past editorials I have suggested ideas for our local officials as far as ways to improve this glorious place.

However, the officials may not have taken me very seriously. For example, the Highway 44 monorail system between Shepherdsville and Mount Washington remains to be planned.

So does the combination Salt River College/Casino Boat, in which daytime classrooms convert into nighttime poker tables with student dealers working off tuition.

I'm still keen on the boat idea, though many local residents are against the idea of casino gambling both here and in our state. Others feel gambling is a necessary evil to help pay off debts.

I have an amendment to the college/casino idea, one that should be fairly and equally unpopular to everyone in our community: Kentucky's first non-smoking casino.

There's got to be a market for people who want to gamble without the sting of secondary smoke in their eyes.

On a plus side, those worrying about Bullitt Countians squandering their important income shouldn't. With studies showing a majority of Bullitt Countians as smokers, we can bet (no pun intended) that they would not visit a non-smoking casino.

Therefore, a majority of money earned at this local non-smoking casino would be money from outside the county. Problem solved.

Fair to smokers? Well, we could even the playing field with another concept that could also help deter the smoking habit: How about a casino where cigarettes are used in place of poker chips?

Think about it: Smokers using their own cigarettes to try and win more cigarettes. If they hit big, they're stocked for a while, but if they lose then they have nothing to smoke. And if they smoke at the casino, they are literally burning a hole in their wallets.

Those losing everything could be treated for both gambling and smoking addictions all at once. It's technically a community service, one that could be funded in part by the non-smoking casino.

Some people still argue for Sunday alcohol sales in Shepherdsville, believing that Sunday sales would bring increased varieties of quality restaurants and boost local income.

This one is easy, a solution that helps more than one problem: Gambling for liquor - people win booze via slot machines.

The slots could vary based on alcohol types: Wine could be won via 25¢ machines, beer on the $1 machines and hard liquor on $5 machines. Champagne could become the nickel slots.

By winning bottles, the liquor-by-the-drink sales situation is bypassed, becoming a moot regulation.

If we can't create a casino boat for these booze slots, I have another theory as to where we could place them: How about the Bullitt County swimming pools?

Sure, no one should drink and swim, and I wouldn't condone that. People could win bottles to take home. Meanwhile, the slots money would go toward much-needed pool maintenance funding. Problem solved.

If only it were this easy.

The thing is, what's the better alternative solution? Do we allow alcohol sales and gambling issues on voter ballots? If so, how? Do we vote on slot machines anywhere or only at racetracks?

If so, does Bullitt County have a place to build its first racetrack? Will it be a non-smoking facility? Will the grandstand include a public pool? Can we purchase alcoholic beverages at this track on Sundays?

I suppose there might be enough room for a racetrack in the same district as the Heritage Hill Golf Club. And if the track were big enough for a nine-hole USGA-regulated golf course in its infield, then the alcohol issue is solved.

Are all the above ideas ludicrous? Sure they are, but what better ideas do you have?

My solutions are brought up at this time for two reasons. First, these issues remain prominent within the community although stubborn sides have been taken, lines drawn and official discussions more ludicrous than intelligent.

Second, the county currently faces other important issues of concern, such as who took the $400,000 cookie from the county cookie jar.

Thankfully the FBI continues to investigate the situation of county funding being taken online from a local bank, with some of the money recovered. Local services have not been hampered, and other bank customers need not worry.

Meanwhile, local officials have more or less avoided playing a small version of the blame game that we hope will not escalate: "I'll say it was Judge Roberts, in the Courthouse, with the lead pipe."

Had gambling been allowed in Bullitt County, I doubt anyone would've wagered that Bullitt County and the Ukraine would've been linked into the same news story.

Bullitt County is a wonderful place to be, and I write this editorial out of sincere love for the community. Is it cynical? Sure it is, it's downright brazen. But again I must ask... Bullitt County, what's a better solution?