OTHER POLITICIANS may need to weigh both public opinion and the siren songs of well-paid lobbyists before taking a stand on casinos. Not the Republican caucus in the House of Delegates. Credit these lawmakers with the courage of their convictions. They agreed this week to vote as a bloc in opposition to casino gambling in Maryland.
Predictably, lobbyists called the decision "premature" and, shamefully, some Democratic officials joined in the criticism. But what is there to wait for if, like these delegates, you think the principles at stake in the question of casino gambling are more important than glittering promises of fool's gold.
Of the 41 Republican delegates, only three were reluctant to take a public stand at this time. Caucus chairman Robert R. Kittleman of Howard County assured reporters that the abstentions did not indicate that these three delegates were leaning toward support for proposals to legalize casino gambling in Maryland. Even without their votes, the 38 caucus members now on record on the issue represent a formidable bloc for casino supporters to overcome. Of 141 members of the House of Delegates, 71 affirmative votes would be required in order to pass any casino legislation.
Polls are showing a majority of Marylanders opposing casinos and Gov. Parris N. Glendening's public musings suggest he is not favorably inclined toward gambling interests. But House Republicans took a stand. Marylanders who value courage and principle ought to applaud them for it. Public hearings have already produced evidence that support for casino gambling is coming largely from the industry, not ordinary citizens. It doesn't take an official report to highlight the fact that, on this issue, principle is more important than promises.