CITIZEN VOICES® Casino gambling in New Hampshire?
Feb 06, 2019
Legislative efforts to legalize casino gambling, championed by state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), have come up each session over the years only to fail, largely because of resistance in the House.
In the intervening years, more New England states have permitted casino operations. Casinos now operate in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Some other forms of gambling are allowed in New Hampshire — pari-mutuel betting on dogs and horses, the state-run lottery that now includes keno, and charitable gaming.
D’Allesandro’s newest effort, SB 310, authorizes one smaller and one larger casino with table games, video slots, and sports betting parlors.
The bill defines a “Category 1” casino as a larger operation with up to 3,500 video slot machines and 160 table games, while the smaller “Category 2” casino would have 1,500 video slots and 80 table games.
Show me the money
The casinos would pay an initial ten-year license fee of $40 million and a tax of 35 percent on gross slot machine revenue and 18 percent on gross table game revenue.
After allowing for three fiscal years to develop gaming regulations, oversight, licensing, and construction, the measure estimates revenue of $103 million in the first fiscal year of 2023, then $160 million in fiscal 2024.
Part of the revenue would be distributed to the host communities, to communities that abut the host communities, to the counties where the casinos are located, and used to create programs for the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction. The bill also sets aside up to $25.2 million for “revenue sharing” among the state’s cities and towns.
Pros and cons
Proponents of casino gambling say the potential revenue to the state and to the hosting communities is substantial enough to address budgetary needs in almost every category, from education to public safety. They say casinos would also create quality jobs for Granite Staters and serve as a draw to out-of-state visitors.
Opponents say revenue estimates cited by supporters are overblown, particularly in light of the fact that neighboring states already have casino operations in place. They say gambling is a form of addiction that the state is not prepared to address, and other social problems are likely to emerge — violent crime, domestic abuse, suicide, and increased welfare, social service and criminal justice costs.