The 1989 Utah Legislature is being treated to an argument that should be familiar to most parents.

The argument made by many youngsters is that they should be allowed to have and do whatever their friends and neighbors are allowed to have and do.That, in essence, is the kind of argument being made now when some residents of Wendover want to legalize gambling on the Utah side of that community just because it is allowed in the Nevada side of town.

As long as Nevada remains the most gambling-oriented state in the nation, Utah is going to be exposed to the problem despite its own laws against the practice. The situation is especially acute in Wendover, which straddles the Utah-Nevada border.

But that's no excuse for Utah to import its neighbor's mistakes and exploit the human weakness for wealth without work, too.

If the Legislature allows gambling in the Utah side of Wendover just because it's allowed in the Nevada side, what's next? Demands for legalized brothels in Utah just because they are permitted in some parts of Nevada?

Even if that particular demand were never made, legalizing gambling in part of Utah would make it harder for the Legislature to keep resisting persistent pressure for parimutuel betting and a state lottery in Utah.

The trouble with such demands is that they focus only on the cash register, ignoring the serious social and economic costs that gambling exacts by draining money away from more productive uses and fostering crime.

Utah is one of only a few states in the nation that still forbids all forms of gambling. Rather than being defensive, Utah should be proud of that status and not let gambling get a foot in the door under any excuse.