April 24, 2009
Steve Mac Donald

The people’s House killed gambling by a 4 to 1 margin, and across party lines, but as many as twenty paid lobbyist hacks for the gaming industry have marched on the State Senate because gambling addiction isn’t limited to gamblers. If we do not respond to this threat our lives and landscape could change for the worse.

The goal is to have a provision inserted into the Budget (HB2) that would allow up to 6 or 7 casinos, with the promise that this will then allow them (State Government) to cut all the new taxes added by the House version. That’s the lobbyists talking – like Lucifer whispering into the pliant ears of state senators, some of whom do not wish to be seen as raising taxes in a down economy, or cutting programs from our growing government.

Well let’s think about that.

The government’s desire to support its expansion will be abetted by casinos. No matter what your personal opinion is that is one thing we as New Hampshire residents should not support. We also have to accept the reality that gambling is not the revenue stream of our dreams we have been promised.

Casinos do mean big money. For Casinos. Most of that money ends up with the casino and the gambling lobbyists, who then buy your government to protect their interests. Any significant number of casinos in New Hampshire would provide these ghouls with plenty of cash to fund campaigns which no other force in the state would be able to compete with. No amount of grassroots support, no party cash cow, no sign wave or phone banking is going to match the influence of a candidate (from dog catcher to governor) with big pocket casino backers funding their campaign.

Jim Reubens compared it to 1880 when the railroads owned New Hampshire politics and New Hampshire. We did eventually managed to write an anti-monopoly law to get out from under that influence but only after years of government being run by a corporate monopoly.

So place your bets. Maybe we’ll score some cash from the venture but will it lead to real long term tax relief, and even if it does at what price to government control, your control of government, and ultimately freedom.

Casinos, like big government, always stack the odds in their favor, disguise it as protecting a “freedom” or a “right,” and then trick people into giving them more and more of their money to support it. The end result is the same for the people, and the entity; the people lose their own power and freedom, and the entity gets fat. And sure, not everyone will fall pray to the vice, but plenty of people will. So is it Ok for government to sanction the creation of an underclass of victims to finance government? It’s not.

The entity always promises to deliver services, but they never really materialize. They get more expensive, and more expansive and residents get nothing comparable to show for it.

And in the end locals pay more taxes for infrastructure required to support and maintain the casinos, deal with traffic problems on a daily basis, fund law enforcement to deal with the traffic and other potential social ills; even the crime and welfare that gambling can bring on a community. There is crime and welfare. Some would say not as much as opponents claim. Well ask yourselves just how much crime and welfare is worth tolerating to finance bigger government then place your bets. Is it worth yours, a friends, a relatives. or just some stranger?

Lets imagine six casinos milking the New Hampshire landscape and casinos using all that money to buy up your community and its politicians. Yes, it does happen. Imagine government getting fatter and bigger as it follows the example of the Casinos. Imagine finding any rural character free of that nexus of influence in the state this size. Don’t think it happens? Place your bets.

The House killed gambling but it’s been resurrected in the Senate. Twenty-four senators are a lot easier to influence with twenty lobbyists than 400 House reps. The Casino money is betting on the NH Senate.

This isn’t an argument about freedom our choice. It’s about defining the kind of choices that represent our values. If nothing else, making government bigger ain’t one of them.

Please take some time to contact the Senate leadership to let them know how you feel about the risks state run gambling represents. Let them know that lobbyists buying up our government will not be tolerated. Call Sylvia Larson and Peter Bragdon and ask them each to rally their party against the lobbyists and the gambling culture they are betting on.

Note: CNHT interviewed Jim Reubens on their April 23, 2009 edition of NH Taxpayer Radio. Please check their website for the posting of that podcast.