Casino craze, here or elsewhere, must include control and responsibility for all

The casino craze apparently has not hit our region. Yet.

Legislation signed last year by Gov. Tom Wolf allowed for casinos to begin to look at sports wagering, fantasy sports, mini-casinos, internet gaming and terminal placement in airports and truck stops.

And casinos recently bid on areas to place new mini-casinos, which would allow for 750 slot machines and 40 tables.

But none of the bidding involved Lycoming County locations, according to Doug Harbach of the state Gaming Control Board, who spoke last week to the Williamsport Kiwanis Club.

Harbach said the casinos are looking at middle population areas and could come to our region in the future, but so far “nobody has stepped up and said they’d like to see one in Williamsport.”

He said nine casinos have petitioned the state gaming board to release mobile games into that market that range from table games to slot machines that can be played from home. Before internet games can be rolled out, Harbach said the board has to make sure there are methods in place to keep people under 21 years old from playing and keep those who can’t control their spending from playing too much.

We will be interested in seeing how the state goes about instituting such controls.

But let’s be clear. People are responsible for their own addictions and controlling them. Alcoholism is a big problem but there are plenty of taverns in the state and no one is holding them responsible for every bad thing that happens as a result of alcohol.

The issue is control and responsibility. That includes the individuals partaking in the gambling craze that is sweeping the nation and, in all probability, our region eventually.

Ultimately, we are just as interested in another issue of control and responsibility. And that involves how our state government takes best advantage of the revenue stream it is clearly creating.

If the only result is just more state spending to match the revenue, the proliferation of state-sanctioned gambling sites should be judged a failure. This is supposed to mean more revenue to the state that is used to solve some of its most pressing fiscal concerns without further burdening state taxpayers.

We shall see if that really happens. The track record is not good.