Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gambling: Legal Immorality

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gambling: Legal Immorality

Article excerpt

At last: a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination has come up with a moral issue that the next president and Congress can do something about. The issue is state-sponsored gambling, a $40 billion-a-year cancer ravaging society, corrupting public officials and becoming the fastest growing teen-age addiction.

"The spread of gambling," Sen. Richard Lugar told the Christian Coalition, "is a measure of the moral erosion taking place in our country. . . . It says that if you play enough, you can hit the jackpot and be freed from the discipline of self-support through a job or the long commitment to ongoing education."

In New York recently, Mario Cuomo's tawdriest legacy - a form of keno known as "Quick Draw" - introduced casino-style gambling to teen-agers at candy stores, using computer terminals to lure kids into shooting modern craps.

In Connecticut, the race for a casino in Bridgeport is down to bidding between Mirage Resorts (an apt name for the gambler's goal) and a recently re-formed "tribe" of Indians called the Pequots, whose chiefs are turning aboriginal Americans into a nation of croupiers.

In Mississippi, the money spent on gambling last year exceeded all the taxable retail sales in the state. Across the nation, under the fake cover of "supporting education," gambling interests offer a down-and-dirty fix to weak legislators.

It's about time someone running for president put this national rip-off on the nation's agenda. Lugar rightly slams adult hypocrisy: "We cannot tolerate the `get rich quick' symbolism of gambling, while pleading with our children to avoid other `tosses of the dice' that lead to unhealthy living and destructive behavior."

His challenge is suitable for the Christian Coalition: Its members may not be able to legislate morality, but here is where they can campaign to stop legislating immorality. A family-values movement to turn the tide of gambling is an issue whose moral moment has come.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has offered a bill to establish a National Commission on the Impact of Gambling. Sens. Lugar and Paul Simon have a matching bill in the Senate. …

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