Editorial: Gambling is not a long-term solution

Some legislators and Gov. Maggie Hassan are seeing dollar signs that may be blinding them to the serious economic and social conditions that come with casinos.

Proposed Senate Bill 152 would allow a casino to be opened in exchange for an $80 million licensing fee and a 30 percent tax on net proceeds, which some say would yield $130 million a year in revenue for the state. Supporters also say it would create jobs and adjunct businesses.

But expanded gambling in New Hampshire seems like an easy way out of difficult financial times. And while a casino would come with a boost in jobs, it would also feed darker elements associated with gambling, such as addiction, crime and poverty.

Yet again, it’s a solution to our revenue challenges that preys on those who can least afford it. Casinos may give the facade of glamour, but the false lure of easy riches will only serve to draw from the diminishing bank accounts of New Hampshire residents.

It’s not the kind of long-term investment that will serve generations to come.

It is one thing for a government to allow an oppressed group, whose ancestors were brutally massacred and conquered, to support itself through casinos, as Native American tribes have increasingly done since the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 provided federal regulation for it. But New Hampshire is in a privileged position, one that would allow us to continue building sustainable markets for renewable resources and alternative energy, while still preserving rural character and environmental assets. This a good place to be.

Proposed sites for a casino in New Hampshire include Loudon, Hudson and Salem, and Hassan has said she favors a location in southern New Hampshire near the Massachusetts border. The host community would enjoy 3 percent of the casino’s net proceeds, according to the proposed bill. But a casino would also bring more pressures on municipal services as well as the environment. The N.H. Troopers Association has come out in support of bill, which would mean additional troopers for the area where the casino is built.

This is not the direction we favor for the Monadnock region, which would likely see an influx of traffic no matter where the casino is ultimately built. Casinos and rural character just don’t go together.

When we look back 20 years from now, we’ll want New Hampshire to be known for its innovation, forward-thinking and conservation. We’ll want people to remember the state as a beautiful, friendly place to visit. Do we really want to be a destination for gambling? We say no.

The bill’s sponsors include both Republicans and Democrats. Senator Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) — who represents Brookline, Greenville, Hollis, Mason, New Ipswich, Rindge, and Wards 1, 2, and 5 in the City of Nashua — is among them.

Right now, New Hampshire is a prized place to raise a family, and that hopefully will be it’s selling point for years to come. Our communities care deeply about the state’s future and about the people who live here. Let’s keep it that way, and find better ways to generate revenue, to control spending and to preserve the state’s character.

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