Jan 30

Best Bet to End Poverty in Kentucky: Legalize Gaming

Best Bet to End Poverty in Kentucky:

Legalize Gaming

By J. A. Gedra

Helping the poor in Kentucky is a noble endeavor, but how can one help? Nine out of ten people agree that the root cause of being poor is not having enough money. If only they had more money, than they would no longer be poor. Based on this reasoning, government interventions to help the poor should be required to provide them with an opportunity to earn more money; otherwise, what is the point of such an intervention. Over the past decade, more and more researchers have discovered that one of the best ways to earn money is to have a job where a person exchanges their time, mind, and labor for pieces of paper that can be exchanged for goods and services. Following this line of thought, many have concluded that the poor should find jobs; however, this is not as easy as it may sound.

There are a number of barriers that those in poverty must overcome to obtain work. One of the main barriers that perpetuate poverty in Kentucky and around the globe is inadequate education; a person needs skills to pay the bills. Most employers want applicants with advanced college degrees or other forms of specialized training and experience. The less education a person has, the less job opportunities they will find. This is especially true if a person has only attained a high school diploma or less. In today’s economy, fewer and fewer employers are hiring people with only a high school education. Such a predicament begs the question, how are people without a college degree going to find a job? Some will say that these people could go to college and earn a degree in four years, but such a solution will not help them today when they have mouths to feed. Also, what if the person is not interested in attending college or performs poorly in a classroom learning environment, how are they supposed to find a job?

What is needed in Kentucky are thousands of jobs for individuals with a high school education or less. If only there was an industry begging Kentucky to come in and create thousands of jobs for people without a college education.

As luck would have it, there is an industry that has been biting at the bit to create jobs for those in poverty, the gaming industry. Everyone who has ever stepped into a casino has noticed two things right away: there is a lot of money in a casino and a large number of employees. Casino hotels require card dealers, chefs, waitresses, security, concierges, maids, maintenance men, showgirls, and a vast array of various other types of workers. None of these jobs require more than a high school diploma. Casinos have huge employment needs and the money to pay their employees well. According to the American Gaming Association, over 350,000 people have been employed by Casino’s and an additional 400,000 jobs were created in other industries as a result of the casinos. The University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) has further found that casino jobs have been especially effective in helping those in poverty by decreasing the number of people receiving welfare payments by “12 to 17 percent.” Does anyone know of another industry that could come to their community and reduce the number of people in poverty by 17 percent?

With such a track record of success, many are likely wondering why is gaming not already legal in the commonwealth. Unfortunately, the employment boom has been blocked by some politicians who believe legalized gaming might have a negative impact on the lives of a few people. To be honest, this is a possibility with all laws; but let us keep things in perspective. In 2008, 58,124 Kentuckians were on Welfare and 663,591 were receiving Food Stamps. When our fellow Kentuckians are starving and broke, they need jobs. The real danger to the poor of Kentucky is being unemployed. If politicians care about the less fortunate of Kentucky, they will help the poor by legalizing gaming in Kentucky.

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