Editorial: Don’t like 1 casino? How about 2?
What was the New Hampshire Senate’s response to the House killing yet another bill authorizing a single casino in the state? It upped the ante, sending over a bill calling for not one but two casinos!
If you think that sounds like folly, you might be right. But if you think this issue is settled, think again.
There are at least a few plausible reasons why this casino bill might have a glimmer of a chance in the House. Which is why casino opponents must be alert, must show up, must be sure to vote when the legislation reaches the floor.
Gov. Maggie Hassan has made the introduction of a single casino a big priority of her administration. She still thinks that’s the better plan. But asked directly whether she’d support the two-casino bill, her spokesman demurred – a signal, perhaps, to sympathetic legislators that they should keep an open mind.
Additionally, there are likely some House members who objected to the single casino because it would create a state-sanctioned monopoly. Would a two-casino bill be more to their liking? Possibly.
And then there is the inexact science of counting votes in the enormous House. The last casino bill to fail did so by just 29 votes. And the total number of votes cast was just 317 out of nearly 400. It’s not farfetched to imagine a different outcome the next time around.
Finally, there is the chance of some late- session deal-making. House members might not want two casinos, but who knows what the bill will look like, come June?
Throughout the long, long State House debate over casinos, the proposals have improved. Most significantly proponents have added tougher regulatory measures. And in the two-casino bill, sponsor Lou D’Allesandro, includes a sweetener: $25 million to be shared among the state’s 234 cities and towns. But none of this has made casinos fundamentally a good idea.
Casinos still rely on residents to lose money – sometimes big money – in order to prosper and thereby fill the state’s coffers. They still breed crime and addiction. They still hurt the state’s existing entertainment venues.
We can understand lawmakers’ reluctance to give up on their ideas. Sometimes it takes months – or years or generations – to convince their colleagues of their cause. Some long- debated ideas deserve to become law, despite long opposition. But this isn’t a cause worth fighting for. We urge the House to hang tough and, yet again, reject the casino bill.
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While lawmakers debate (again) a traditional casino or two, they may well be unaware of plans, apparently legal, for the growth of mini-casinos across the state.
World Poker Store Inc. announced last week its intention to open up to four charitable gaming facilities in New Hampshire. Assuming the company receives state gaming license approval, it plans to offer poker, table games, bingo and electronic pull tab machines at each of the facilities. The state Charitable Gaming Commission is currently promulgating regulations for such machines, and the company intends to have facilities open and ready to place machines immediately following approval by the gaming commission.
Sounds an awful lot like four new casinos, doesn’t it? Is this what the governor and Legislature have in mind?