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Gambling issue is game we must play

When it comes to legalizing gambling, Ironton and Lawrence County may as well be playing with house money.

The issue remains a highly debated issue across the state with U.S. Sen. George Voinovich and Attorney General Jim Petro strongly opposing it. Both sides of the debate plan to come together today to debate the issue.

But for southern Ohio, the answer is clear. What is there to lose? Why shouldn't Ohio's adults have the choice to gamble at home instead of driving across state borders to spend their money.

Opponents to casino gambling claim that it will lead to the destruction of families and create more urban ills such as crime.

Gambling, like everything else in life, involves a choice. How can it be any more damaging than alcohol, prescription drugs and state-sanctioned gambling - the lottery?

Supporters of legalized gambling tout the fact that it will generate tourism, local investments spin-off business.

Will it solve all the problems? No. Should it be mandatory? No way. Should local communities be able to decide for themselves what works for them? Absolutely.

Voinovich was quoted as saying that casinos will hurt existing businesses.

"While it is true that there would be new jobs for blackjack dealers, pit bosses, cocktail waitresses and other support staff, it is also true that existing hotels, restaurants and entertainment businesses and retail would suffer decreasing sales and decreasing employment," he said.

We're not sure where he is referring, but it certainly is not Lawrence County. We don't have enough existing businesses of this type that can be hurt. But we do have a need for jobs and for something to attract outside dollars into the area.

Anything we can do to bring people to our county will only help us move towards the future instead of relying on the past.

Maybe Cleveland and Cincinnati can afford to allow people to take their money elsewhere. Lawrence County cannot.

Maybe legalized gambling would be rolling the dice. But if we aren't careful, the whole game will pack up and leave the neighborhood.

If we are not careful, southern Ohio will be left holding the losing hand without ever playing our cards.