Like the proverbial bad penny, a casino bill is once again in circulation in Concord.
It has already passed the state Senate and had a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday.
This latest bill, which features two casinos, is similar to a bill that failed by a single vote in the House in 2014. One difference, however, is this bill sweetens the pot for cities and towns by anteing up $25 million to be divided up among the state’s cities and towns. With the bill only failing by a single vote last year, the casino lobbyists must think they can peel away enough votes to win by spreading the promise of money far and wide.
We urge our state representatives to stay strong and ignore the false promise of easy money.
With each passing year, the damning evidence from casino states mounts, with financial horror stories coming out of Connecticut, New Jersey, Mississippi and Nevada. Now Massachusetts is getting into the act, weakening New Hampshire’s hand by further diluting the market.
Since 2006 Atlantic City has seen its casino revenue drop from $6 billion to $3 billion, and the bottom is nowhere in sight.
As casinos in Atlantic City began to go bust, casino developer Donald Trump told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “The United States is becoming one big casino.” He added: “It’s not the panacea when everyone is doing it.”
On Wednesday the Seacoastonline.com ran a column by former Connecticut Congressman Robert H. Steele, who described the decline of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods in his state.
“According to a recent landmark report from the non-partisan Institute for American Values in New York, (casinos) drain wealth from communities, weaken nearby businesses, hurt property values, and reduce civic participation, family stability, and other forms of social capital that are at the heart of a successful society,” Steele wrote.
This paper’s argument against casinos is simple. While there may be an exception or two, the overwhelming majority of casinos overpromise in order to win state approval and then quickly begin to under-deliver on promised tax revenues.
When governments receive casino dollars they grow to levels that cannot be sustained once the casino dollars begin to dwindle and then the governments are in crisis. In response to that crisis, in state after state, they approve more casinos or allow existing casinos to grow.
As the states become dependent on casino cash, the casino industry begins to have outsized influence in the state compared to existing businesses. This can lead to corruption.
In anticipation of the Bay State’s casinos, the FBI has set up a new public corruption hotline in Massachusetts (844) NOBRIBE. Really, go ahead and call it.
“When you look at legalized gaming, you have a heavy amount of regulation, along with a lucrative business,” Special Agent Vincent Lisi told the Associated Press. “Those two factors combined make for pretty fertile grounds for corruption of public officials.”
All around us we see the fruits of the New Hampshire Advantage: low taxes, high median income, safe communities and wonderful quality of life. We have achieved this advantage without the false promises of casinos.
House Finance Committee Chairman Neal Kurk got it right last week when he said: “If your objective is to create a revenue source that grows with the economy, this is not the one for us.”
We agree and we hope his House colleagues do as well.