Honoring more hallowed ground in Gettysburg with links to the pivotal Civil War battle and President Abraham Lincoln's historic visit makes far better sense than bringing a casino to the neighborhood.

As the state Gaming Control Board convenes a hearing Tuesday on the proposed casino in Gettysburg, gambling proponents will argue that a casino there will boost the local economy.

But building a full-blown casino just a half-mile south of where thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers fought and died is as much economic folly as it is an affront to their memory.

Since most Pennsylvania casinos draw the majority of gamblers from surrounding communities, a Gettysburg casino merely will divert entertainment and hospitality dollars from other local businesses.

It's far more important to the local economy to preserve the unique setting and character of the Gettysburg battlefield - a powerful drawing card for the small town that hasn't lost any of its appeal after nearly 150 years.

Congressional legislation approved by the House in the spring and a Senate committee before the August recess would help to do just that.

The Senate measure, cosponsored by Pennsylvania Democratic Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey, would expand the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park. It would add the Gettysburg train station where Lincoln arrived to deliver the Gettysburg Address, as well as 45 acres at the southern end of the battlefield.

The battlefield acreage is being donated by a local foundation. The rail station, owned by Gettysburg and operated by a preservation trust, will be used by the National Park Service as another outlet for visitor information.

When Congress reconvenes, full Senate approval of the park expansion would be a fitting prelude to the 150th anniversary next spring of the war's opening salvos at Fort Sumter. That anniversary is one more reason the Gaming Control Board should deny a bid for a casino license anywhere near Gettysburg.

Taking new steps to preserve Gettysburg's place in history is the right thing to do, while also enhancing historic tourism in the area. Bringing roulette tables and slot machines anywhere near the battlefield, though, would be a mistake of historic proportions.