Hold the line on gambling

As the Legislature begins its session this year, we’d like to throw in our annual appeal to not put the state on the road to legal gambling.

We again would urge legislators to limit any such thoughts to a lottery associated with Powerball or Mega Millions, with the proceeds earmarked for education. (More on that issue Thursday.)

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.

People would not 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.

(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.