Monday, April 19, 1999

Hawaii should say no
to gambling

Bullet The issue: Whether Hawaii should legalize a lottery or other forms of gambling
Bullet Our view: Hawaii should continue to reject all forms of gambling.

THE perennial campaign to introduce some form of gambling, particularly a lottery, to Hawaii seems to have failed again in the Legislature this year. Never fear, it will be back. But the argument that it is needed to boost a weak economy seems less convincing in view of new national statistics.

Despite the publicity about winners of the biggest jackpots -- last week a Massachusetts babysitter won $197 million, the biggest undivided pot ever -- 15 of the 37 states with lotteries recorded lower sales last year than in 1996. Overall ticket sales grew by only 0.4 percent last year, the smallest increase since states introduced lotteries three decades ago.

Since they were launched in 1963, state lotteries have mushroomed into a $36 billion business. The states and the District of Columbia netted $12 billion last year. New lotteries are under consideration in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

However, there are signs that public interest is waning as states try to squeeze more profit out of the games.

A study released last month found that 5.5 million Americans are problem or pathological gamblers. Another 15 million could be at risk of developing an addition to gambling.

The study was prepared for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which may call for restrictions on the types of innovation and promotion that states can use.

"My greatest concern about the lottery is that it preys on the desperation of the poor, maybe more than any other form of gambling," said commission member James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family.

Financing government programs by exploiting people's weaknesses is wrong. Anyway it appears that the appeal of lotteries is wearing thin. Hawaii would do well to continue to reject gambling.


Missile testing

Bullet The issue: The Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai has been designated as the testing site for a missile defense system.
Bullet Our view: The program will help Kauai's economy.

KAUAI'S economy will get a welcome boost from designation of the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands as the testing site for the Navy's Theater Ballistic Missile Defense system. The program develops missiles to protect ships and ground forces.

The decision will require an upgrade of the missile range's radar, communications and telemetry equipment and bring more scientists and technicians to the island. It assures the future of a facility that is Kauai's largest employer but seemed in danger of closure a few years ago because of defense budget cuts.

As he has been in so many defense programs, Senator Inouye was involved in bringing this program to Kauai. Hawaii continues to play important roles in the nation's defense, and benefits economically.


Soccer park

Bullet The issue: Mayor Harris wants local soccer groups to absorb the cost of operating and maintaining the facility.
Bullet Our view: It's preferable to raising taxes.

IT'S great that the city has opened its $11 million soccer park on Waipio Peninsula to cope with the growth of this sport. And it's noteworthy that Mayor Harris has carried the concept of private sponsorship into this area.

Harris wants local soccer groups to absorb the cost of operating and maintaining the facility. But maintenance is estimated at $400,000 a year, and soccer leaders aren't sure they can come up with the money.

It's possible that teams will be charged for practicing and playing at the soccer park. In addition there will be revenue from concessions, entrance fees for major events, sponsorships and other contributions.

With the city forced to cut back to balance the budget, funds for such operations are in short supply. User fees seem preferable to raising taxes. But where do you draw the line?


Algerian election

Bullet The issue: Six of seven Algerian presidential candidates withdrew.
Bullet Our view: The election could trigger more bloodshed.

IT was some election they held in Algeria. Six of the seven presidential candidates pulled out of the race to protest election fraud.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, seen as the choice of Algeria's powerful military, was declared the winner. Bouteflika, a former foreign minister, was elected with 73.8 percent of the vote, the Interior Ministry announced.

He had been considered the probable winner for months, but the withdrawal of all the other candidates badly tarnished his victory.

In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin said the United States is disappointed with the election. It "might have represented a clear step forward on the path to democracy and political reform," he said. "We are clearly disappointed by the events of recent days."

Algeria could end that crisis by "promoting democracy, the rule of law and economic reform," Rubin said. "The Algerian leadership now assumes a heavy responsibility to pursue credible reform."

An aborted election in 1992 triggered an Islamic uprising that has left 75,000 people dead. We can only hope that this election will not provoke more violence.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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