Just as Pennsylvania's casinos approach the saturation point - with total annual revenues dropping for the first time last year - it makes no sense for Harrisburg to consider doubling down on gambling to pay for crucial state services.

Yet as state lawmakers and Gov. Corbett discuss a projected $1.2 billion budget gap in the coming fiscal year, they are poised to lean even more heavily on tapped-out casino patrons and lottery players.

Ramping up new video gaming options and possibly legalizing online betting - the latter posing the risk that even fewer casino patrons will play slots and table games in person - would be a play for quick, easy revenue. But even though the Republican-controlled state capital is in the grip of antitax ideology, the expansion of gambling as a budget-balancing tool would likely offer only short-term gains.

One concern is the downward trend in revenue from the state's 12 casinos. They will face even more pressure if a second Philadelphia casino is licensed.

There's also the lackluster outlook for the state's most recent expansion of gaming. After the legislature and Corbett authorized small games of chance in bars and taverns, the prospect of running daily drawings, lottery-style game cards, and monthly charity raffles was greeted with a collective yawn by barkeeps. At one information session, bar owners explained that they were underwhelmed by the potential take and overwhelmed by the amount of red tape involved. The new games could well prove to be a bust for the state.

It may be that bar owners would more readily embrace the proposed introduction of bingo-like keno games, which would be overseen by the state Lottery Commission. But that would also put more temptation to gamble away the rent money within arm's reach of many Pennsylvanians.

Lawmakers also should be challenged to address a more fundamental question. As noted by a longtime gambling opponent, State Rep. Paul Clymer (R., Bucks), the government's increasing reliance on gambling should give us pause if we ask, "What are we about as a state?"

That sound, back-to-basics approach to government responsibility is one reason the retiring Clymer will be missed. And it's yet another reason policymakers should look to more broad-based sources of revenue to meet the state's pressing needs - rather than hitting up gamblers for even greater losses.