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MORELAND: Beshear letting Kentuckians gamble with their lives

Casinos are not essential.

Some will tell you Kentucky doesn’t have casinos, at least not in the traditional sense. But we do have gaming at six locations at race tracks around the commonwealth, including The Red Mile in Lexington, as well as Derby City Gaming in Louisville.

They are called gaming centers, and not casinos, because the games are supposedly based on horse races that have been run at tracks in the past.

As Gov. Andy Beshear delivered an executive order last week closing the dining rooms of restaurants around Kentucky, those gaming centers continued to operate. Although they are doing so at a limited capacity, people are still allowed to go to the centers and gamble.

Meanwhile, many restaurants here in our town and elsewhere in Kentucky are not allowed to have their customers come in and enjoy a meal and support business owners who are trying to make a living and keep their business afloat during what are already very difficult times.

Schools across Kentucky are closed to in-person learning. Students are having to learn virtually, which is not the best environment for many. Some simply don’t learn as well in an online format, and they need the personal instruction in a face-to-face setting. They also need the interaction with friends and a little sense of normal life that they can’t get sitting in front of a computer screen.

In addition, many parents also face the challenges of trying to work a job to pay the bills, only to come home and serve as a teacher to help students who need even more help than they normally would with their studies.

Although churches have not been ordered to close as part of Beshear’s mandate, he has requested that services be limited to virtual only. Personally, I can tell you I get much more out of a church service if I’m there in person than I do watching it on Facebook.

I find it absurd that all of these activities, which are a large part of the lives of many Kentuckians, are restricted while gambling is allowed to continue. If hundreds of people can pack into a gaming center using the safety measures recommended, then why can children and teachers not attend classes using those same safety measures? Why can we not worship in person, and why can we not enjoy a meal and support our restaurants? If being around other people in these settings is a problem, it should also be a problem in a gaming center.

It seems to me that while he doesn’t want some normal activities that many of us count on to take place, Beshear is perfectly fine with Kentuckians gambling with their money, and potentially gambling with their lives.

Jeff Moreland is a regional editor for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Winchester Sun, The Jessamine Journal, The Advocate-Messenger in Danville and The Interior Journal in Stanford. He can be reached at jeff.moreland@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.