Stay away from legal gambling

We keep hearing – and reading – that a serious attempt will be made this legislative session to legalize at least some form of gambling in Hawaii.

We again would urge legislators to limit any such bill to a lottery associated with Powerball or Mega Millions, with the proceeds earmarked for education.

Any move to casino gaming or even slot machines would have serious consequences for the state. A new class of addicts would be born and there would be a further strain on our already stretched social service and criminal justice systems.

Families would be destroyed, lives would be ruined.

As we’ve written before, people are not going to come from the Mainland to gamble in Hawaii. If gambling is the reason for a trip, there are many locations much closer than our state.

Our experience in the Midwest showed busloads of senior citizens carted from neighboring cities to casinos. It made us realize one simple rule about gambling:

If a free bus ride is the lure that gets you to a casino, you can’t afford to be there.

Those seniors and people who should have been working were virtually the only daytime patrons of those casinos.

Before legislators consider anything beyond a lottery, a delegation should visit the slums of Atlantic City. The delegation should also visit neighboring communities to casinos in the Midwest – ask the police chiefs in those towns how legalized gambling affected their jobs.

Some obviously see legalized gambling as a panacea for all that ails our economy. It is not. It would bring a new set of tragic problems to our state.

The primary users of the legalized-gambling facilities would be those who shouldn’t be there.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.