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Another View -- Bill Walker: Maggie Hassan's boardwalk empire

April 24. 2013 2:15AM

Gambling has to be legal. Everything in life is a gamble; if we weren't allowed to gamble, how could we place the wild bets in our 401(k) plan that we hope will let us retire? (If you don't think investing is a gamble, take a look at the inflation-adjusted returns from U.S. bonds, or just go read your IRA statements from recent years).

Even entertainment gambling can't be eliminated. About 85 nations have legal online gambling. Unless you want to shut down the Internet, there's no way to stop people from gambling. Our government has only managed to divert the profits from online gambling to those other nations.

Of course states don't try to stop people from gambling entirely. They only try to divert them away from traditional entertainments like horse racing or casinos and into the mind-numbing dullness of state lotteries (aka "the tax on people with bad math skills").

State-operated monopolies on gambling are justified on the basis that they provide "money for education." Well, somehow we manage to get food without having the state own the farms. If gambling were completely legalized, the state would tax the gambling companies just like any other companies. No drama, no opportunity for corruption or political gain.

Gov. Maggie Hassan's proposed casino may not even be profitable. It will have to compete with much bigger casinos in places like Vegas and Massachusetts. Why should taxpayers be forced into a restrictive deal with any one gambling company? The answer, of course, is "lobbying and campaign contributions." That isn't a very good answer.

If gambling were legal in New Hampshire, legal for everyone and not just one corrupt group, then it would either be profitable (and help the state's economy), or it wouldn't exist. Private gambling can't hurt our economy, but a contract with a failed monopoly hung around our neck certainly could.

The Democrats are cleverly profiting from Prohibition all across the board (in complete opposition to the liberal views of Democratic voters). Democratic governors have blocked marijuana decriminalization (and medical marijuana) for the last nine years. I'm not saying that they do this because of campaign contributions from the marijuana industry (though if the drug cartel had lobbyists, that's what they would do). They do it because the anti-drug cartel is a powerful political force. The police make up a big bloc in the government-employee unions, and those unions provide the Democratic Party with money and campaign workers.

Last week the New Hampshire Liquor Commission even had a fit of nostalgia and brought back a little of the original boardwalk empire by banning a certain brand of malt liquor. This one arbitrary mob hit on our economy might only cost a few hundred thousand dollars in the short run. In the long run, it gives our state the reputation of being run by the governor's crime family instead of by the rule of law. Things like that tend to drive off all businesses and investors, no matter what they make. New Hampshire doesn't need a mafia to run our state and sell us "protection." What we need is to get back to the old New Hampshire, where people took responsibility for their own actions. Neither gambling, nor malt liquor, nor marijuana can hurt our state. But letting the governor grant business monopolies to whatever lobbyist pays the most can ruin our economy and our good name forever.

Bill Walker of Plainfield is a member of the Sullivan County Republican Committee.

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