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My Turn: Atlantic City offers a skewed view of casinos

The debate about casino gambling has hit the silly point when this newspaper suggests following the lead of none other than Donald Trump (Monitor Opinion, July 20). As a matter of fact, it is way beyond silly to tell legislators to thumb their noses at $120 million in license fees alone, almost 2,000 badly needed construction jobs and thousands of permanent jobs. The alternative is what?

The closing of Trump’s casino in Atlantic City is no big surprise. For some time, the casinos in Atlantic City have been feeling the pressure from competition that did not exist a few years ago. As a matter of fact, for many years Las Vegas and Atlantic City had no competition and controlled 100 percent of the gambling market, but other states have expanded into the market with “high-end” destination casinos that are far more appealing than the old casinos of Atlantic City.

While the Atlantic City market has gotten smaller, the regional market has grown with new casinos in neighboring states like Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Maryland and Connecticut.

The discussion for the past couple of years here in New Hampshire has focused on the fact that older casinos that were “first-in” never contemplated nearby competition that exists today and they are feeling it, but overall many new markets are doing very well.

Case in point, just look next door to Maine.

Maine has been quite smart in avoiding saturation by allowing only two casinos. And the numbers are quite amazing. In 2006, casino net revenues were $37.5 million; the past three years have brought in net revenues of $59.4 million in 2011, $99.2 million in 2012 and $126.2 million in 2013.

And so far this year Maine is on track to surpass last year’s numbers. Anyone want to bet a good amount of that revenue is coming from New Hampshire residents?

That’s why this year, when the New Hampshire Legislature worked on casino legislation, lawmakers took into consideration nearby competition in Maine, and soon, Massachusetts, something Atlantic City never contemplated.

Even Moody’s rating agency, in its recent report, cited places doing very well (such as Maine), as well as places facing competition challenges. Our region remains the most significant untapped area in the entire Northeast.

Professor Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, recently summed up the situation as it relates to our region.

“The last two significant pockets in the Northeast really are in New York and Massachusetts, and I would include New Hampshire in all of that, as well,” Barrow said.

Even casino opponents can’t ignore one reality: Boston (and Southern New Hampshire) is the biggest metropolitan market in the Northeast without a casino within an hour’s drive.

“I have always said I still think just in the New England market you have another $1.5 billion to $2 billion in gaming demand based on what and where you locate it,” Barrow said. “Saturation is not a set number. There is not a magic formula that gets you there. You have to look at the number and size of facilities, the population and the income growth in each market.”

Barrow said destination resort casinos are the most likely model for success in New England. That’s why Massachusetts took into consideration impact from neighboring states when it passed its law.

I am at a loss to understand why the Monitor wants to suggest they know better than the banks who will lend hundreds of millions of dollars with no risk whatsoever for the state. I think you protest too much, but your agenda is quite obvious. Thanks for the advice, but I have no plans to follow Donald Trump.

(Katherine D. Rogers is a state representative from Concord.)

Legacy Comments30

Its not often I agree with Katherine Rogers, but she is 100% right. I travel to Atlantic City on business occasionally, and it is a dump! No wonder the newer casinos, in better places are cleaning their clock. I'm sure Rep Rogers motive is to generate more revenue for the Legislature to spend, but gambling is a voluntary tax, not a mandatory tax like a sales or income tax, so I'm OK with that. Many of the tax and spend liberal Dems look at casinos as a detour in the road to sales and income taxes, so they're against it. The Republicans who oppose it often have no good reason, but are either law and order freaks or believe we should follow some high moral ground, to which, more often that not, they personally do not subscribe.

Voluntary Tax? Wrong again, boxcar breath. For the fixed-income sect, or the lion's share of any casino's biz, it can be a Voluntary Disease. And an extremely debilitating one at that. The issue isn't morality; not in my estimation, anyway. It's doing what's best for the citizens of this state. I say keep the snake(eyes) out of the house.

Doing what's best for the citizens of this state, is keeping mandatory taxes down. In times of $4 per gallon heating oil, and run away property taxes, if someone has the money to gambol, let them. They're going to anyway, that's why there are so many tour buses going to states where there are casinos. Let's keep the tax money here. Who's paying you, anyway?

Gambol? lol...look at you, crank. A couple of soft jabs, and you're down on one knee. What's gonna happen when I nail that glass jaw of yours? Look, I have lived all over this country, and across the pond. I know what we have here in the Granite State, and it's mighty special. So, I don't have to be PAID to care. I give a damn because I love New Hampshire. I'm not about to sit by and let any self-anointed guru run it into the gutter.

Unfortunately, you don't seem capable of having a reasoned debate.

Larry stop being an ass with your biased opinions and name-calling. You obviously don't have anything else to support your opinions.

You're right, rje. I got nuthin'. But how can anyone compete with such a fiery intellect capable of razor sharp "You wish, huh?" comebacks? Have another 'Gansett, neighbor.

Larry, it's time to bring this to a close, but I have to add just don't make assumptions about others. I don't drink alcohol, never done drugs or even smoked, don't take any medication, or have a gambling problem- I'm too much of a tight-wad for that. I'm actually financially well, thank you.

Please forgive me, rje. I had you all wrong. Appears you're just a choirboy who tours casino towns across the USA. Tom Joad of the slots; "Where can you find me, Ma? Wherever there's a casino with a free buffet, so hungry seniors can eat. Wherever there's 3 cherries on one pull, and a cop that can escort me out to the parking lot, whenever I think I'm $200 up. Wherever there's a busload of geriatrics headed for the next Lipstick on a Pig. That's where you'll find me, Ma.". rje49, the Gambler of Wrath.

"What is 'ruining NH' is all the druggies moving up from Massachusetts!!"...Walter. LOL. The fun I am going to have with this!

Done "relatively well" at slots have ya, rje? That's an addict's alibi if I've ever heard one. Bringing home $200 would be good, too...if you didn't leave with $300. Must be quite the swimmer for doing so many breaststrokes in your favorite river, De-Nial.

Democrats only see casinos as a piggy bank. Ask a democrat if they would support the recreation of Casinos if they had ZERO taxation . That answer tells you everything. Readers should know that the democrats since Shaheen's election have doubled the state budget. There is plenty of TAX money to do what is mandated in the constitution.

Time to put a stake thru the gambling vampire's heart. The endless parade of gaming sycophant's are pitiful.

You wish, huh?

Kathy, Kathy, Kathy...seems you've got your nose firmly entrenched up Maggie's derriere on this one. It's not just Atlantic City whose casino numbers are down. Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are both crapping out, too. The honeymoon in Maine won't last long because the casino thing is played out. But more importantly, we don't need this kind of trash in the Granite State. We are SCENIC New Hampshire, Kathy. Lakes, Mountains and Seacoast. I thought you knew that much. How disappointing. I have voted for you in the past, but can't see it in the future.

Wrong, Larry. And among the 40 states that have casinos, nothing, including some excellent scenery, has been harmed. This kind of imaginary thinking is exactly what I mean about you folks who simply don't WANT a casino.

rje, Did you miss morning meds call, again? We've already had this conversation. I'm the guy who witnessed a local family do their Jerry Springer Show impersonation over a GD patio chair in a Biloxi restaurant...remember? Moreover, I've driven across this country at least a dozen times, covering the Rust Belt, the Bible Belt, and all the belts in between (including those familial 'belts' thrown in Biloxi). I've gotten a good look at these casino towns, and they are no place I'd want to live. So, don't tell me "wrong", when I have been there. I would suggest the "imaginary thinking" is on the part of the pro-casino set, who have deluded themselves into thinking these Lipstick Pigs are some kind of financial oasis. However, like all such baseless visions, it's nothing more than a mirage.

Well, I've lived in 6 different states that have casinos (none of those in the northeast), and I've gambled in 20 of the 40 states that have casinos. Never heard of any regrets in all those states. How has it trashed Maine? Wyoming? Minnesota? Mississippi? North Dakota? I've had lots of fun, as millions of people do. You're obviously seeing things from a negative point of view.

Blowing the retirement in 20 different states, eh? Well, it's never too late to address your gambling problem, rje. Best get that monkey off your back before you cash in your chips, so-to-speak. Here's what I'll do for ya, bud. Send me her current pic, and I'll consider taking care of the 'little woman' while you're in Round Robin Rehab.

Ha Ha! I've done relatively well at the slots, but never lost so much it hurt in any way. Yes, it's possible to play slots without being addicted. We go to Foxwoods or Oxford once or twice a year. Did the Foxwoods thing 2 weeks ago and came back up $200! But anyway, when people "lose", call it voluntary taxation, which is better than forceable taxation. Still waiting for info on how all those other states have been ruined/trashed by a casino. I mean, besides all those murders and prostitution I see around Oxford, Maine everytime we go. Just terrible, isn't it? OK, that's enough of this...

what is hilarious is that you think the politicians care a hoot if somebody has fun - all they want is the tax revenue

Thinking about this.... when I retired, on the insistance of my wife, we moved back to NH. I like NH too, but it's far from perfect. In fact, it's one of the worst states to retire to. I live in a cheap house because of property taxes; I can't see paying 30% of my social security for property taxes that I get almost nothing in return. What a slap in the face NH gives a retiree when your income drops; your taxes keep going UP. So the NH House (by one vote) doesn't want casinos; it will "ruin" our state, but nobody can demonstrate why this would happen when it hasn't ruined any of the 40 other states with casinos. Oh, it's "morrally wrong" say others. But NH is HEAVY into selling booze, aren't they? They sell to alcoholics and drunk drivers. THAT's not morally wrong? And of couse the're's the lottery tickets. You can spend your entire paycheck on them if you'd like. They sell them everywhere. But that's OK, too. So, just what is the definition of "Ruining NH?" and why isn't NH ruined already?

You've visited several other states in this union, and have the gall to piss on New Hampshire? Where were you the trunk? Get your oblivious butt down to Biloxi, rje. I'll tell the Jerry Springer family you're en route.

So, Larry, you're biased opinion is based solely on some singular incident you witnessed in Biloxi? Or was it on TV? Oh, maybe I was right, it was your imagination - or the LSD you took.

rje49...having been to Las Vegas, waked down the strip and, oh yes, lost one dollar in a slot, I see absolutely NO reason for a casino in NH. You do understand: that casinos are there to take your money-no other reason. For NH (and I was born, raised, educated, employed, and retired here) to need casinos because forty other states have them is ridiculous. 'Ruin NH??' What is 'ruining NH' is all the druggies moving up from Massachusetts!! Would casinos draw more up?? I don't care to find out.

LOL this post is perfect! "What is 'ruining NH' is all the druggies moving up from Massachusetts!!"...Who are these druggies and...who do they vote for...ya think?? Come on now know that drug addiction is an illness...yes yes..a disease...and you disparage them? It would be like saying "What is 'ruining NH' is all the cancer patients moving up from Massachusetts!!"...Walter Walter've committed a terrible crime against your party. Problem is...none of them will call you out on it because..well ..they are all ideologues ...

Half-right, Walt. It's less the druggies coming from Massachusetts than the Free-Staters and other lunatic fringe libertarians coming from wherever.

there you go...another ideologue heard from...other than being all wrong, Walter is half right. Told ya.

Walter, you do know that's not what I said about 40 other states; it's not the reason why NH needs one, it's merely 40 examples of why it won't "ruin" NH as so many believe- like "Larry", who has zero information to back such his claim. Yes, I understand how casinos make profits. So do the states which take 50% of those profits. They also employ thousands - see Tunica MS, formally one of the poorer counties in the nation. Check out what they've done for the Sioux tribes in the Dakotas, etc. etc. It's also fun, especially for so many seniors, and the're's nothing wrong with that. My gosh, you're basing your opinions on a single drop of a coin in a slot machine?

Well said. It's frustrating to read the distorted arguments against casinos. Having one or two in NH is not "saturation", and they would not "ruin NH". And by the way, I'm always appalled when I read the comments of concern when it comes to entertainment; a big casino would "hurt the smaller venues" around the state. Where there howls of protest when the Verizon Center was built?

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