Kentucky Governor Blasts Gambling for Causing “Nightly Suicides”

  • Claims made by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin during a recent radio interview
  • Opponent is state Attorney General Andy Beshear, who supports legalized gambling
  • Kentucky has a huge pensions deficit that any additional gambling revenue would help fund
  • The American Gambling Association says the comments are "false" and "irresponsible"
Despondent man with head in hands
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has condemned gambling for causing “nightly suicides.”

Opponent calls claims “erratic”

In a radio interview earlier this week, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican who has condemned legalizing sports betting in the state, discussed the impact that gambling abuse could have on vulnerable players, including suicide. He told WKDZ radio:

“Every night somewhere in America, somebody takes their life in a casino because they’ve wasted the last semblance of dignity and hope that they had. Families are ruined. Lives are ruined.”

His opponent is Democrat Andy Beshear, who supports the expansion of gambling in the state as a way to help fund struggling public pension systems.

Bevin’s comments, which were declared as “erratic claims” by Beshear’s campaign spokesman, Sam Newton, who went on to say that they were “further proof he’s unfit to lead.”

Two men with opposite beliefs

Challenger Beshear, the state’s attorney general, has previously given his support to legalize gambling as a revenue source for underfunded pensions (Kentucky has one of the most underfunded systems in the country).

However, Governor Bevin holds beliefs that are completely the opposite. Not only is he opposed to casino gambling, but he also believes that the revenue simply would not meet the funding challenges that public pensions face.

America combats such behaviors

The American Gaming Association also spoke out in response to Bevin’s claim that gambling-related suicides are nightly occurrences, something Bill Miller, president and CEO of the AMA, deemed “patently false and irresponsible.”

The trade group speaks on behalf of the U.S. casino industry, which is worth an estimated $261bn (£215bn), and released a statement about the efforts being made to combat such behaviors. The statement said:

“Governor Bevin’s comments this morning about the casino gaming industry were patently false and irresponsible. Our industry commits hundreds of millions of dollars a year to address the very serious issue of problem gambling, ensuring that patrons have the tools they need to engage in our offerings in a responsible manner.”

Sports betting still up for discussion

Sports betting in Kentucky is still up in the air. Previous legislation failed, leading Bevin to say that there is “no political appetite” for the legalization but this is something his challenger disputes.

Beshear has said publicly that gambling could net the state an additional $500m (£413m) a year. He wants to plow it into pensions in order to free up funds for education and healthcare.

Bevin has not verified his claim that gambling causes nightly suicides.