My Turn: Casino supporters will do anything to win
The 173-172 New Hampshire House vote against casino legalization last Wednesday, while close, should have been the end of the expanded gambling debate this session. Yes, the anti-casino side won with a shot at the buzzer, but win they did.
But politics, unlike sports, doesn’t have clear-cut rules. And so now casino advocates will get another shot at trying to push the ball over the goal line. Imagine the losing team getting another shot at a win by saying, “Excuse me ref, we’d like to reconsider.” It would be absurd.
It’s important to remember that every casino legalization bill that the New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted on, not only this session but over the last 30 years, has been rejected by the House.
But each time they lose, casino supporters tie new incentives and promises onto their bill to gain votes like they were candy canes on a Christmas tree. And we all know how politics treats promises.
What makes this even more bizarre is that some representatives reportedly supported the casino bill last week in hopes that amendments to it could be debated, including one that would decriminalize marijuana.
Last month, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from a game with the Red Sox after Sox manager John Farrell asked the umpire to check Pineda’s neck, which appeared to have something smeared on it. Rubbing pine tar or any other foreign substance on a baseball gives a pitcher an unfair advantage and is commonly referred to as “juicing the ball.”
Pineda was caught cheating and was booted from the ball game.
Unfortunately, the rules of politics are not as straightforward as the rules of sports. And there’s no umpire to take action to protect fair play.
Negatives of casino gambling outweigh the positives? Promise gambling money to cities and towns. Why not? It can be redirected later. The vote on your bill didn’t go your way (again)? Get someone to flip and file a motion to reconsider.
Serving as a volunteer legislator is tremendously demanding work, requiring long hours, great patience and personal sacrifice. I have no question that those who want to legalize casino gambling are promoting it because, in their view, the ends justify the means.
However, if a bill legalizing slot machines and casino gambling, smeared with municipal revenue-sharing promises and tied to the decriminalization of marijuana is passed by the House, it will be one of the greatest political travesties ever carried out in this state.
An issue as important as this should be decided strictly on its own merit.
Why does a pitcher doctor the ball? Because they know they don’t have the right stuff that day to win fair and square.
It appears the same is true in politics.
Hopefully it won’t decide the outcome of the game.
(Andy Lietz of Rye is a business executive who has served the state in number of volunteer capacities, including chairing the board of the Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire, the University System Board of Trustees and the Gaming Study Commission under former governor John Lynch.)