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Gambling

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Scott Spradling, Jim Rubens, & Citizens Count Editors.
Summary

Some forms of gambling have been permitted in New Hampshire since 1933, when pari-mutuel betting began, followed by the opening of the Rockingham Park horse track and later the Seabrook dog track.*

We were the first state to have a lottery, which was established in 1964, and in 2017 it generated net revenue of $76 million.

State revenue for gambling goes towards education programs, and since our official lottery began over $1.8 billion has been generated for this purpose.

New Hampshire also permits several other forms of gambling, such as bingo and poker, with a portion of proceeds benefitting charities. An undetermined number of residents also gamble online on illegal gambling websites that are not state regulated.

Keno also became legal in New Hampshire in 2017, with funds going to support full-day kindergarten programs.

To deal with the state's budgetary stresses, worsened by the recent recession, several bills were introduced in the Legislature during the 2009-2012 sessions to legalize video slot machines at race tracks (racinos), certain hotels and resorts, or at state-owned facilities. None of the bills passed in the Legislature, but the issue is still hotly debated because of continuing state budget problems.

A gaming commission formed by then-Gov. John Lynch in 2009 studied the issue for several months and reached the following conclusions in its final report:

  • Expanded gaming would generate additional revenues and economic activity, but it would also generate additional societal and economic costs. 
  • Expansion will increase the number of problem gamblers.
  • Proliferation of gaming is a concern, but one with no clear solution.
  • New Hampshire needs to review its regulation of gaming.
  • A data-driven, proactive analysis about the impact of expanded legalized gaming on the state's image and brand is needed in order to better determine and manage potential risks and opportunities.

Recent developments

As part of the budget compromise in June 2013, the House and Senate convened the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority to study and recommend a regulatory structure for gambling.  On December 9, 2013 the Authority revealed a 2014 bill, HB 1633, that included a regulatory structure and the authorization for a 5,000-slot casino.  Despite the significant effort legislators dedicated to HB 1633, the House killed the bill in March 2014.  The House also killed all other expanded gambling proposals.

In 2015, Sen. Lou D'Allesandro sponsored SB 113, a bill that would authorize two casinos in New Hampshire.  It was ultimately killed by the House. HB 169, a bill that raises limits on some types of bets in poker and other games of chance, was signed by Gov. Maggie Hassan in June 2015. 

*A law banning live dog racing was passed in 2010.

Author:
Scott Spradling, Fix It Now Member.

"New Hampshire should authorize one or more casinos."

The state needs the revenue and the alternatives are worse:

  • Our legislature began work on our state budget for 2010-2011 facing a budget deficit from existing taxes and expenses estimated at $400 million to $500 million. The final approved and balanced budget included numerous tax increases and spending cuts, but also significant one-time benefits that went away next time around.
  • Expanded gambling has the potential to raise hundreds of millions of dollars and solve our budget problems once and for all without any new taxes (such as a sales or income tax) and without bumping up the rates on the many other taxes we have in the state.
  • Expanded gambling will create lots of new jobs and draw tourists.
  • With the current recession, expanded gambling with new licenses will generate a large numbers of good jobs in our state. Millennium Gaming of Nevada proposed to modernize Rockingham Park at a cost of $450 million creating thousands of jobs, and that was just an estimate from one project.
  • Locating gambling sites in various regions of the state will draw tourists to those areas, and could be a major improvement to the economy of the North Country.

The fear of increased crime rates is overblown:

  • The fear that a large increase in crime will accompany expanded gambling is not backed up by the facts. FBI data of 2005 show that the crime rate of Las Vegas is below the comparable rates of cities such as Phoenix, Arizona, Orlando, Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In addition, recent proposed legislation would devote some of the funds from gambling to recovery programs for problem gamblers.
  • A GAO report in 2000 concluded that "in general, existing data were not sufficient to quantify or define the relationship between gambling and crime... Although numerous studies have explored the relationship between gambling and crime, the reliability of many of these studies is questionable."
Author:
Jim Rubens, Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling.

"New Hampshire should not authorize one or more casinos."

The gambling revenues are overstated and will not solve our state budget problems:

  • Casino tax revenues have not fixed budget problems in other states. Casino states have budget problems no less severe than New Hampshire's and casino revenues are declining nationwide. In fact, racinos may become a tax drain in some states. Maryland passed a racino law and that state has considered using taxpayer money to prop up two bankrupt racetracks — and as of 2011, casino developers had purchased licenses for only half the number of authorized slot machines.
  • Of all states with legalized slot machines or casinos, every one has either a sales or income tax: all but five have both.
  • Gambling interests are overstating revenue projections. Slots revenue may not arrive in time to fix immediate budget deficits. First license and operating revenues would be received no earlier than about 24 months after a legalization vote (the typical elapsed time in the seven most recent racino states).

Gambling businesses may not be additive - they cannibalize other local businesses:

  • Slot casinos of the type being proposed for New Hampshire may not benefit the state's economy and simply cannibalize existing local businesses. A literature survey done for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston states, "[c]asinos that cater to a local market generally do not bring outside money into the economy... [and] may have no net ancillary economic impacts. Residents patronizing such casinos may simply substitute gambling for other goods and services."

Gambling creates many negative social problems and increases crime rates:

  • Multiple casino locations may force negative social and economic impacts on many New Hampshire communities. These impacts include: higher rates of gambling addiction, violent crime, domestic abuse, suicide, and increased welfare, social service and criminal justice costs.
  • A 2006 study published in The Review of Economics and Statistics found that, by the fifth year after the introduction of a casino, host counties saw rates of robbery, aggravated assault, auto theft, burglary, larceny, and rape increase by an average of 10 percent. The casino-crime link has been shown in several additional studies, with the Review of Economics and Statistics study now used to assess casino impacts in most independent gambling cost-benefit analyses. Gambling advocates often cite older studies which use small sample sizes and less rigorous statistical methods and report no definite link between casinos and crime.
  • Gambling addiction treatment fails to solve the problem created by casinos. Six casinos spread around the state would increase baseline pathological gambling disorder by about 1 percent of New Hampshire's adult population. Only 7-12 percent of gambling addicts even attempt to access available addiction treatment services. About half or more of revenue at a typical slots casino is extracted from problem and pathological gamblers, meaning that the state budget would be built around the continuous creation of new gambling addicts to replace those who gamble themselves and their families into bankruptcy.
  • Slots are several times more addictive and harmful than existing New Hampshire gambling. Gambling addiction onset is over 3 times faster with slot machines compared with table games, lotteries, or betting on animal racing. Here are the intake statistics from the Rhode Island Gambling Treatment Program: 69% slots, 10% horses or dogs, 9% table games, 8% lottery. Through frequent display of "near misses," slot machines are designed to make players think that they are winning 2 to 5 times more than in reality. Recent brain science shows how these near misses promote gambling addiction.

Comments

Ananta

New Hampshire Constitution clearly states that the state must promote good morals, frugality and public virtue. Yet, our state government is engaged in promoting vices solely to bring in revenue to the state to support the uncontrolled patronage spending. It has failed in the basic expectation of our constitution while all those elected take an oath to protect and defend our constitution.

Gambling is being promoted to bring in a few million dollars while shedding crocodile tears on potential addiction. The state is already engaged in promoting gambling with its lottery sales. The excuse for that nefarious activity was that it funded education. It is for the children!  They even bring in sports personalities mostly idolized by children to promote lottery sales.

Now, they want to expand into the big time gambling.  They say that it would bring in several millions of dollars.  Some of the bills under consideration would set aside funds for treating the undesirable addiction-induced behavior of people as a result of that promotion- very compassionate gesture indeed!  

The state is also considering legalizing marijuana.  It started with medical marijuana smokescreen.  The state legislators see Colorado and have started to salivate for the few millions waiting to be harvested along with the weed.  They could probably follow the tobacco model for more revenue in the future.  The government promoted tobacco up until perhaps 1970s by offering cigarettes to those in uniform when they fully well knew that smoking was a health risk.  They then sued the tobacco companies to extort money when all of a sudden smoking became a public health issue.  They got billions from the companies and as part of that settlement, the states promised to pay for smoking cessation and the higher medical costs of treating smokers.  In New Hampshire, the funds went into the general fund and that meant very little is being spent for the stated directives of the settlement.  The government never made tobacco products illegal nor did the federal government eliminate tobacco subsidies.  The governments including New Hampshire found it convenient to keep increasing the taxes on the legal tobacco products and that way, they could have it both ways collecting money.  One could see that in the future  a few marijuana producers being hauled off to court to pay for the health related costs while increasing the taxes on the use of it at the same time. 

The state is already selling liquor on a monopoly basis.  So now, we have the state promoting or condoning use of alcohol, tobacco, gambling and probably marijuana while collecting taxes and/or settlement fees from each of those activities.  May be the state should consider promoting prostitution just like Nevada.  After all, with the state supervising it under strict rules, that won't be that bad, would it?  Imagine how many millions that would bring in.  The state could even say that it would be a way to get rid of the state property tax for education.  A properly stated end towards a public good can justify any means, in today's state government.

Can we demand some sanity at the state house?  Control the spending and stay away from promoting all the vices in the name of doing good with them.  Never ending greed for more dollars to spend is being rationalized at the state house to engage in activities of crime syndicates of the past.

Robert

I'm still fuming over the lost opportunity that our government messed up by not passing legalized gambling! If anyone googled revenue "Oxford Casino Maine", revenue is displayed to the state and the local community. That's a fact! This is a small town way up in Maine and has a large draw. We already have various forms of this here whether it be charity gambling, church bingo, lottery, etc.. Many of our elected officials appear to be hypocrites by turning their heads to this idea. This was a selected tax revenue for those willing to pay. Instead, they opt to pass a gasoline tax that affects everyone. This includes those who are having a hard times with the inflation that our government doesn't count! Those on fixed or limited incomes are hurting as well as the common person on the street. It almost seems that morals are at work. Here's a news flash, other states are going to benefit. We are a tourist state. Anyone who has to drive along 93, 95, Everett Turnpike or Rt 16 know how many people come here on the weekend.

The bottom line, if you don't like it, then don't go!!! We lost revenue, lost jobs for construction, lost jobs for operations, lost jobs for additional hotels, lost property tax revenue, we just lost. My elected officials in Carroll county will here my vote in the Fall! They obviously are out of touch with those people that are feeling the higher costs of living. These are the people who don not deserve the right to serve.

 

Bob Paulding

Wakefield, NH 

Robert

I see the constant debate about this topic playing out in the state press and simply can't figure out what's the problem? State and local governments are not different then you or I. We all have expenses to cover so we can function. Anyone not living under a rock for the past 10 years knows that these expenses we must pay are going up. The federal government has been showing the rate of inflation at around 1% for years but when we go to a supermarket, department store or other retailer we've been seeing rising prices for years. Governments deal with that as well. Whether it be higher utility rates, fuel costs, office supplies, etc. they experience what we experience! All that said, we the people can complain about government spending and how they need to cut it but at the end of the day, their operating costs go up as well. Now comes gambling as a revenue source. Maine for example has reeled in tens of millions since Oxford opened up way up north. That's not near a heavily populated area. Hundreds of million have been given by Twin River in RI. MA is getting ready to move forward with their plans for casino gambling and where are we?

The state will get their revenue one way or the other, fact! Which would you prefer, taxes, fee hikes or Casino revenues. Personally, I'd prefer casino's. Casino's will have those who can afford to spend extra deposit their funds there. Additionally, tourists, whom we depend on, will now have another reason to come here. If taxes and fees are implemented, then that hits most everyone, including those on limited and fixed incomes causing more problems for them.

If this state can allow charity gambling, bingo and lottery to exist then the state can say yes to casino's. If not, those who vote no and like those 80 who didn't even vote at all last time around are pure hypocrits ! Those who are holding out because of some morals, need to look at their wallets when the state comes calling and make that decision. I and many others work hard for what we have and want to keep these things. When a revenue stream comes available to the state that doesn't impact me or my family, I'm on board!!!

Harry

I think the state should institute some for of sports betting as an adjunct to the state lottery. We can start with parlay tickets, where you choose a number of games, against the spread. We can add different variations later. It's a potential source of badly needed revenue for the state. We led the USA with out lottery. Let's not be the last to get on board with sports betting.

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