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Editorial: Casinos are the wrong answer

Over time, the relentless lobbying by pro-gambling forces and the grinding task of allocating insufficient resources has worn down the resistance of many New Hampshire lawmakers who long opposed expanded gambling. Some cracked under the pain of denying services to children who need them or placing the disabled on waiting lists for services. With a shudder, they agreed to support a casino for the revenue proponents said it would provide.

We ask them to reconsider. We ask that the New Hampshire House, which has been a bulwark against expanded gambling, hold firm. And we ask Gov. Maggie Hassan, who supports the construction of a casino near the Massachusetts border, to change her mind. Casino gambling is not the answer to New Hampshire’s fiscal problems.

It would be the beginning of a whole new set of problems.

The ancient Greek oracle at Delphi gave up opinions more readily than John Lynch, but in his last days as governor Lynch warned against opening the state up to casino gambling.

“I worry about proliferation. I don’t know how you contain it and what it would mean for New Hampshire over 20 years. It could have a structurally negative impact on the state,” Lynch told Monitor editors in a recent interview. “We have all these good things going for us. Let’s not mess it up by doing something structurally different,” he said.

The money that gambling interests are willing to spend to influence legislation can have a corrupting influence on government, one that puts the interests of out-of-state investors ahead of those of the citizenry. Casinos and their low-brow cousins, slot parlors, are hard to contain because the revenue they bring in is addictive.

The temptation to expand is ever present. Because one legislature can’t bind another, the power of lobbying money, as well as the “You let them, so why not us?” argument would lead to an increase in the number of gambling outlets.

Since casinos draw most of their business from within a 50-mile radius, most of the money they take in would come from New Hampshire pockets.

In a casino market that’s doing poorly, the likelihood that anyone will gamble on building a huge destination casino in New Hampshire is zilch, not when one super-casino already exists at Foxwoods in Connecticut and a $1.5 billion casino may be built near Boston.

To attract business, a casino would spend far more on advertising than the state spends to promote tourism. Permitting a casino would allow gambling interests to brand New Hampshire in a way detrimental to its image as a family-friendly outdoor paradise. When people think of Connecticut, they think of Foxwoods; the same could happen here.

Legalizing casinos would also increase the incidence of gambling addiction and the fragmenting of families that can result.

Wavering legislators should think of the interests of their constituents in business and the people they employ. A casino, let alone multiple casinos, racinos and slot parlors, would efficiently suck up disposable income that would otherwise be spent in New Hampshire shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. The effect on existing businesses could be profound enough that any estimate of revenue gained by the state would be offset by a reduction in business profits taxes and losses at the local level from increased enforcement and lower property taxes.

Two casino bills have been filed so far, and more wouldn’t surprise us. One, by perennial gambling proponent Sen. Lou D’Allesandro and Salem Sen. Chuck Morse, calls for the single, large casino Hassan has said she could support. The other posits two small casinos, one in southern New Hampshire and one in the North Country. Neither are gambles worth taking.

To Rabbit, in regard to your statement below: "the Left ....do not connect something as simple as job creation with a corporation. And they never connect industry loss to taxes or mandates either." If I'm in your "Left" category, maybe you haven't read or understood some of my posts on this. Employers, including corporations, should be regarded as our friends - they provide us with jobs. Our "industry loss to taxes" is in no small part caused by the burden we place on employers for SS taxes, Medicare taxes, and Medicare taxes. China does not burden their employers with these taxes. They fund their social programs directly from individual income taxes and a sales tax, and they do so at significantly lower cost, as do many other nations, while covering all their citizens. If we want to stop the "industry loss to taxes", and if we want to lower the cost of our social programs, and if we want to bring our manufacturing jobs back to make products competitively here in the US, we should do something similar.

Comparing China to the US is wrong on a lot of levels. Sheer size alone brings in more tax revenue. Their economy in 2012 was up 29%, while the US economy was minus 7%. They have a different work ethic in China. They work for low wages, and they are a communist country. Which means, you give up rights. The gov calls the shots, from freedom of speech to how many kids you can have. China has booming manufacturing and is the largest exporter of goods in the world. I could go on. Wealth in the US is seen as a bad thing. Socialism now is seen as good. Nothing I say is meant to be taken personally Earthling or to assume it is directed at you. Just my opinions like yours.

So Corporations paying for health care insurance, Medicare taxes, and Medicaid taxes here, while China doesn't burden employers for these costs and taxes, doesn't "connect industry loss to taxes"? And I shouldn't compare the US to a country with stronger economic growth where our jobs are being outsourced? Every country has some degree of socialism. I don't think we should be spending as much as we do on socialized defense of American (corporate) interests abroad. Actually, I wonder if communist China benefits from our defense (of foreign oil) spending in Bahrain. Nothing personal either.

Communist China is a heinous dictatorship which enslaves its people. Do you think that the health care in China is good? The living conditions? They have a stronger economy because our folks outsourced jobs there, I mean our union folks, people who demanded wages too high for US corporations to make a profit; a government which taxes corporations too much. We should be harvesting our own oil here at home instead of defending oil in Bahrain but the hysterical ninnies won't allow that.....oh no......so we will continue on this path to mediocrity.

To RabbitNH ----------- I 100% disagree with you on "current use". Those properties that are generating income should be called a "business" and treated the same as every other business. Those properties that are not a business are personal property, just like mine. We have a business tax and a personal property tax, when exemptions are made and the tax is not paid then I would say it does cut out money to the state. You should get outside NH, there are lots of states that have wide open land areas for tourist to see. Every square foot is not sold to developers and built on as so many that “want the exemption” say. Other states have open land because they have "low property tax" for everyone and no exemption. People with lower income and retired people would be able to afford to stay in NH, but the way you want it is that the large land owner pays less than a person owning 1/2 acre - are you ready ""In a state that generates revenues from property tax." I have seen the “Space” website – there is nothing on it that shows that “current use” is better than low property taxes for everyone. Actually one might wonder why the land all those businesses are setting on, generating all that money are not valued higher???

You cannot have an open debate about Current Use, unless you are willing to discuss who is on it, what incomes levels are on it, how much is generated by the Timber Industry, Jobs, severence taxes paid etc. Instead you believe, or just want to put out the false narrative there, that Current Use is a scam for large landowners. You refuse to discuss who actually is on Current Use. How about the towns who have big tracks of land, what are their taxes, here is a hint, they are low. Commercial Land costs more than open land to maintain in the form of schools, road work etc. If you folks who are looking for a revenue stream, keep going after investors, tourists, farms, etc, at some point they all will be gone. Big Land Owners do not let the land just sit there. They employ foresters, loggers, etc and they pay severence tax on any revenue generated from that. Keep turning industry, tourists , investors away from NH. They will go elsewhere, at which point you will have a major revenue issue. And I do not want to see farms, orchards, maple syrup, and wood products leave NH.

You won't win with the bunch who want to keep taking more and more money for people to redistribute on wasteful programs and over the top spending. They think that wealthy people have piles of gold that they sit on and hoard, they just don't understand that those are the folks who spend a ton of their fortune keeping people employed. They should look at what happened to the luxury yacht business when they levied heavy taxes there, it is almost extinct and thousands of people lost their jobs. Now they are after guns and if they get their way to ban guns, tens of thousands of people will be out of jobs. Progressives are so petty, jealous, narrow minded that they do not have enough self respect, enough principles and ethics to understand that envy is so small. Unfortunately, many people complaining about current use have prime property and are calling for an income tax and are self serving as many of them would realize the benefit. Homes on Nob Hill in Concord are primarily owned by hard Left progressives, they will benefit the most. Those who are privileged enough to own lakeside property should pay more, we should not be subsidizing them either.

Agree, the Left never connects anything, when they are looking for a revenue stream They do not connect something as simple as job creation with a corporation. And they never connect industry loss to taxes or mandates either. the revenue stream trumps everything. Ya never hear that anything the govt runs is done so very poorly and at cost and waste to taxpayers. They have no concept of cause and affect, and seeing how the auto industry went bust years back. They attribute everything to greed. Give no value to the ERA, or Unions contributing to why the auto industry shrunk. Even today, if you ask them about GM they have no clue what the cost was, who got paid off etc. I guess if you are for big govt, nothing else matters. How many more industries will leave before they get the picture? We make nothing anymore in the US. Too costly to make things here. I guess they are okay with farms, timber industry, etc going the way of all the other industries that have left. Sad.

Why do so many forget that "gambling" is already in NH. Anyone can buy 500 lottery tickets a day, go to the former dog or horse track and gamble all they want, and buses run most every day to the out of state casinos. Why is the state not over run with these gambling addicts now...... All those that do not want an income tax should be screaming for the casinos as a revenue raiser to offset the property tax. More and more retiring workers are leaving NH due to the overwhelming property tax when they enter a fixed income status.......

How will "the casinos.... revenue.... offset the property tax? Asross the board? What town(s) will benefit from the casino property tax revenue? - The same as how the tax revenue from waterfront mansions on the shores of state owned lakes only benefit certain towns? Real estate is only a portion of wealth. The little guy in many cases is way over-taxed on their net wealth, especially when their mortgage is netted against their home's value. Some are under water and actually have negative wealth. Meanwhile the rich are not taxed on their stock market investments which can be a huge percentage of their overall net wealth. People earning interest income are taxed, while huge realized (and unrealized) capital gains go untaxed. Overall wealth is not taxed, so why should we be relying so heavily on taxing property wealth. We have all sorts of income taxes and sales taxes in NH, and I suggest that the base of those taxes be modified and simplified to include all sales and all income, leveling out the local ed tax rates tax rates to a significant degree and adequately funding the cost of statewide education in the process.

I agree with you.... My fist point was there is already multiple forms of gambling in NH so why would a casino be any different.... The revenue from a casino should go to the state and be used across the state as/where needed. This could be a revenue stream so personal property taxes do not continue to rise. I am for an income tax with a reduction in property tax equal to that amount - no net increase. I feel when a person’s income goes up they can afford to pay a little more and then when their income goes down they pay a little less...... And let’s not forget in our "property tax" state of NH, the state allows ~~50% of the property to put in "current use" so almost no taxes are paid. The large landowners have shifted the tax burden to the small property owners. Just as you say all income should be counted, I say all property should be counted.

On current use it doesn't seem fair for someone to pay almost no taxes for years, and then only pay a small % to take it out of current use. The owner who sells any current use property should have to pay back all the taxes that were not paid over all the years the property was in current use with compound interest added.

I couldn't agree with both you guys any more. We have an old dilapidated tax structure in this state which does work for the taxpaying public as they can't afford their homes especially after they retire. This whole system has been carefully modified to keep the wealth in the wealthy's wallet and for the average homeowner to subsidize their property taxes. Get rid of the current use program, and look at an income or sales tax that would fund our school system and not be used to fund other programs. Lock it in legislators, do something worthwhile for the majority of the people, not the rich minority.

Sorry, I meant to say "doesn't work for the taxpaying public"...

Hey Jim: The Current Use Program is not one that cuts out money to the state. On the contrary. It brings in resources to the state. Check out Space and see who owns land here in NH under current use, check out how much wood products bring into our state revenue wise, check out what % of land is owned by what income levels, how much income do we get from maple syrup, how much income do we get from tree farms etc, tourism etc. You might be surprised.

“We have all these good things going for us", and the sky high local education tax rates in towns like Claremont and Pittsfield are not some of those "good things". "Let’s not mess it up by doing something structurally different"? Then why has the state continued to be structurally indifferent on enforcing the Court's Claremont ruling on funding education? The statewide property tax has been rendered structurally useless. Some towns with high local ed costs are actually paying a higher state ed tax than towns with low local ed costs. Here are the 2 ends of the spectrum: Claremont local ed tax rate $16.10 and state ed tax rate $2.36. New Castle local ed tax rate $0.86 and state ed tax rate $2.25. Claremont per capita income $21,676. New Castle per capita income $89,539. A house valued at $1,000,000 in New Castle has a tax bill of $6,390, while a house valued at $185,918 in Claremont has the same $6,390 tax bill. Shouldn't high value/high per capita income towns without the availability of low rents share some of the responsibility to educate the children of low income families that can only find low rents in towns like Claremont? Why isn't Claremont receiving a significant state education tax credit, rather than paying in at a higher $2.36 rate than New Castle's lower rate of $2.25? This problem could be corrected instantly, statewide, by adjusting the state education tax rates, rather than waiting for someone to build a gambling casino and hoping that the revenue materializes long term. However, if we are going to do something "structurally different", my preference for fairness in taxation would be to widen and simplify NH's existing array of sales taxes and income taxes to include all sales and all income, along with a minimum $2500 refundable income tax credit for all NH permanent residents, including renters.

100% of the time a liberals answer to any problem they perceive that day is to....TAX MORE.....never ever do they even have a fleeting thought that maybe SPENDING LESS is the ONLY good solution

Why find a way to effectively use water when you can to back to the well and waste it just to go back again. One day, the well will go dry but progressives have no forethought, unless of course it is about global warming and how it will affect the earth 200 years from now. Hey Sail, why aren't they concerned about our children's financial future? Blinders Sail, one trick ponies with blinders on.

New Castle has a tiny school and they fund it themselves. Let's face it, people earning $21,676 probably made different life and lifestyle choices than those earning $89,539. But let's look at that. Chances are that $185,000 home in Claremont is owned by a two income family so for simple math $43,352. No real income taxes are paid on that so they probably clear $41,000/52= about $800 per week. It would take them 8 weeks to pay their property taxes each year, their mortgage is probably $880 so it would take them 7 more weeks to pay that each year. That leaves them $25,000 for groceries, car payments, etc. It is very doable.

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