Bevin's 'sucker's bet' is paying off in southern Indiana

Bevin's 'sucker's bet' is paying off in southern Indiana
Downtown New Albany has experienced immense revitalization over the past 10 years. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Downtown New Albany has experienced immense revitalization over the past 10 years. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin again dismissed arguments that casino gambling would produce significant revenue for the commonwealth.

On Tuesday, he repeated his position that casino gaming is "a sucker's bet."

Officials in New Albany said they have evidence to the contrary, claiming the southern Indiana city's downtown would be a ghost town without grants from a foundation funded by Caesar's Horseshoe Casino.

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"Downtown had very few businesses in it -- one restaurant," Jerry Finn, Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County Executive Director, said. "Now everywhere you look there's new shops, boutiques, restaurants."

More than a decade ago, many believed the odds were too great to risk investing in downtown New Albany. The Horseshoe Foundation contributed $20 million to the construction of a downtown YMCA. And for the last 10 years, the city has been on a winning streak.

"For adults and municipalities, gaming can be an exciting form of entertainment and revenue generator," New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said. "With the right revenue sharing contract, and proper oversight, gaming can be a positive addition to most communities. Of course, participants must be responsible."

The result is a sharp contrast to the argument from Bevin that states lose when they bet on revenues from casino gaming.

"Casinos, I think, are a sucker's bet for states who think they're going to be a big boon to economic development," Governor Bevin told reporters on Tuesday. "They have never historically proven to be that and for those who got into them first, like the Atlantic Citys of the world, they've been the exact opposite."

"I don't know what to say to that," Finn laughed, "other than we're just glad our friends in Louisville come enjoy the gaming facilities in southern Indiana."

In New Albany, casino money continues to fuel revitalization from new facades to millions in greenspace and street scapes -- and that's just the money visitors can see. Investments are being made in people, as well, in the form of low interest business loans and scholarships.

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