Dismantling the case for casinos

April 3, 2012 9:01 am

One of the main reasons lawmakers use to support gambling is competition from other states. The governors in Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts all said that legalizing casinos would keep residents from going out of state to gamble.

To a certain extent that may be true. But the answer to gambling is not more gambling. A casino closer to home just means folks gamble more often and new problem gamblers are created. The upshot is more wealth stripped from residents.

New Hampshire’s governor and lawmakers just rejected an effort to legalize casinos there. (See earlier post here.)Casino supporters said the state needed to act now that Massachusetts has legalized casinos. But an editorial in a New Hampshire newspaper explains why that is a bogus argument. Here’s a portion of this compelling editorial in the Seacoast newspaper that cuts through the rhetoric:

“The last thing in the world New Hampshire should ever do is try to copy the corrupt, bloated and thoroughly dysfunctional government of Massachusetts, where the last three House speakers have been convicted of federal felonies, and patronage, nepotism and no-show jobs are common.

“The reason Massachusetts needs gambling is that it is addicted to spending. When the going got tough during the Great Recession, instead of belt-tightening, as we did here in New Hampshire, Massachusetts decided to feed its spending habit by prostituting itself to organized gambling operators.

“Massachusetts will soon find, as every other state that has allowed gambling out of desperation has found, this sort of political prostitution does not create a sustainable revenue stream. As the initial flow of gambling dollars slows, the gambling interests will seek more lenient laws and additional locations. Once they have more lenient laws, they’ll begin to choke off the amount of money going to the state and the state will need to take what it can get to feed its addiction.”

 Well said.

New Hampshire nixes gambling

March 29, 2012 11:58 am

When it comes to big policy decisions in many states, the Senate and House leaders often tell their members how to vote. That’s why it was good to see rank-and-file members in the House of Representatives in New Hampshire rise up and vote against a measure to legalize casinos.

The bill had bipartisan support of the legislative leaders, thanks to some major influence peddling by the casino lobbyists. A close vote was expected. But the House rank-and-file handily defeated the measure 195-154.

The House members understood the bill would essentially give a lucrative monopoly to four private businesses without any required investment or time line for when the casinos would be built. State lawmakers also understood that extracting wealth from residents is a bad way to fund the government. Likewise, Gov. John Lynch was rightly opposed to casinos.

To its credit, the majority of New Hampshire lawmakers did not fall for the argument made in so many other states regarding the need to legalize casinos in order to keep residents from traveling across state lines to gambling. The wrongheaded move by Massachusetts to legalize casinos prompted some to say New Hampshire need to do the same.

To its credit, New Hampshire took the time to study the impact of casinos on the state. The state didn’t just weigh the benefits but also looked at the costs. The findings made it clear that casinos were more trouble than they were worth. That’s a win for good government.

New Hampshire governor to veto more gambling

November 15, 2011 11:20 am

Kudos to New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch for saying he will veto bills that would legalize video slots in the state.

Lynch is one of the few lawmakers in the country who understands the downsides of gambling outweigh the benefits. He is not falling for the pressure to ram through gambling just because the economy is weak and the state needs to generate revenue.

Lynch said New Hampshire doesn’t have an adequate regulatory structure in place to monitor gambling. He is also concerned about how the spread of gambling would impact the state’s quality of life. Lynch also fears the outsized influence gambling lobbyists and industry officials would have on the state.

Very few elected officials have the brains and integrity to stand up to the gambling industry. Lynch has studied the issue and come to the right conclusion.