- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Editorials from around Pennsylvania:



It might be time for an intervention.

It’s beginning to look more and more like Pennsylvania has a gambling problem. Our legislators might not be addicted to the rush that comes with a big bet, but they certainly seem to have a taste for the influx of cash that legalized gambling can bring to the Keystone State.

Like many gambling addictions, it started simply enough. The Racehorse Development and Gaming Act, passed in 2004, cleared the way for racetrack casinos, slot parlors and casino resorts in Pennsylvania.

“It’s just a little (mostly) harmless fun playing slots or betting on the ponies,” gambling proponents said. “Everyone else is doing it. And just think of all of the property tax money that we can save!”

Six years and nine casinos later, our state leaders moved on to table games.

“Slots are fun,” they said, “but table games are where the real action is. We need this to keep pace with our neighboring states.”

Now, it’s 2014 and the legislators are starting to notice that the stack of chips that was supposed to be piling up in front of them is dwindling instead. The state is facing a $1 billion budget shortfall and its gambling revenue was down in 2013.

Not all of these bets are paying off. But, like a problem gambler, state leaders are not willing to cash in and head home.

“This is a sure thing,”?some legislators seemed to be saying last week. “We’ve got a way to win our money back:?We’ll allow online gaming!”

Econsult Solutions Inc. of Philadelphia found that online gambling in Pennsylvania could generate $307 million per year, according to a story by The Associated Press. And legislators across the state are already lining up to place their figurative bets.

What could be wrong with that??Well, plenty, actually. Consider:

-The payoff might not be as good as advertised. New Jersey had hoped to make $1 billion in its first year of online gambling, but recent estimates show it could only be one-fifth of that.

-Online gambling could just end up taking away players from the casinos. Econsult says that online gambling likely would attract younger gamblers, but admits that there are few studies that examine the relationship between online and offline gambling.

If neither of those is true, the best-case scenario is that we are exposing a new generation to a potentially addictive and destructive habit. Sitting alone in front of their computers or smartphones, they will be free to spend, spend, spend without so much as a pit boss or cocktail waitress to interrupt their binge.

Is that really a future that we should be striving to attain?

Our plea to legislators is this:?Stop hitting the spin button, put the cards down and step away from the table. Pennsylvania can’t afford to continue gambling on gaming revenue.

-The (Johnstown) Tribune-Democrat



ATVs are great fun, but they’re not safe. Adults should think long and hard before letting their children drive them.

On Saturday morning, 8-year-old Eric Long was riding alone in rural Lancaster County when he crashed and the ATV rolled onto him, preventing him from breathing. His father went looking for him after not seeing him for five or 10 minutes. The 911 call he placed came too late for the little boy.

This death was both tragic and preventable.

No doubt young Eric loved the thrill of riding. But it’s one thing for adults to take the risks inherent to all-terrain vehicles, entirely another for children. Children, even teens, cannot yet fully grasp the possibility of death or serious injury. They don’t fully understand the myriad risks of driving. Throw in the bumps and obstacles of off-road terrain and you’ve only upped the danger.

Most states set 16 as the minimum age for a driver’s permit because driving is a highly complex skill that carries many risks, both on and off the road. No child is equipped to make consistent, good, safe driving decisions.

Responsible parents won’t let their children drive an ATV alone, ever. No thrill, no joy of the open fields and woodlands, is worth a child’s precious life.

-Pocono Record



Whether it’s for political gain or for good conscience, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett made the right decision. He won’t appeal the controversial Voter ID law ruling.

A story on page one of The Herald Friday told the tale of Corbett’s decision to abide by a judge’s ruling that the state’s law requiring photo identification at the polls is unconstitutional.

The ruling was handed down in January by a Commonwealth Court judge who said it imposed an unreasonable burden on the right to vote and that supporters showed no need for it.

As Corbett moves through his re-election year, the decision not to appeal could partly be to avoid continued controversy that would have inspired more Democrats to show up at the polls to bring about his ouster.

Regardless, the decision by the court was a correct one and it would have been a hard sell on appeal to a higher court that the law had credibility.

The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed the law two years ago that would require every voter to show a photo ID at the polls.

They maintained that it was a way to prevent voter fraud.

Others claimed it was an attempt to disenfranchise many minority voters, who normally voted along Democratic party lines.

Many inner city dwellers, for instance, may not have drivers’ licenses or other means for photo IDs.

The mandate brought about a lot of opposition, including groups such as the NAACP, AARP, labor unions and advocates for the poor.

While we have no problem that voters be properly identified at the polls when necessary, there has been no indication that photo IDs are needed to prevent fraud, as the Legislature claimed was the reason for the law.

In fact, officials of the Corbett administration that had pushed for the law admitted they knew of no examples of voter impersonation.

Reportedly, in the last few elections there have only been two cases of voter fraud uncovered in the entire state - hardly a reason for major upheaval in voting laws.

What is irritating is the amount of money that went into trying to initiate this law. It cost about $6 million for advertising and almost $1 million for legal counsel.

Most surely the state could have found better ways to spend that kind of money.

If it ever comes to the forefront that voter fraud is on the rise, then maybe the state should revisit the need for photo IDs and the proper way to distribute them to voters in need.

But currently, it is best that the law dies and we move forward and assure that every eligible voter has a chance to have a say at the polls on election day.

-The (Sharon) Herald

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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