Another View: New Hampshire would take a risky bet on casinos
It is coming to the point where more and more states are looking to gambling as a way to raise revenue. Casinos are sold to the voters as economic development, but they merely displace money from one source to another. Supporters give the carnival sales pitch that casinos will develop new economic activity, when in fact they are duping you because in reality casinos are designed to draw people and keep them there with cheap drinks, free food and entertainment. Local businesses won’t stand a chance against such a draw, which will suck the life out of surrounding small businesses.
Expanded gambling will result in separating more and more hard-earned money from people, some of whom can least afford it. You might say that state lottery money goes to support education, yet New Hampshire taxes, including property, have escalated since the lottery was created. A new casino won’t bring lower taxes, it will just result in more government spending.
Gambling is not a victimless source of vice. Bankruptcy, broken homes, domestic violence all bear heavily on the community and on its tax burden. It is not just the unfortunate families who are affected, it is all of us, for every time police respond to violent behavior, courts have to pursue a creditor, or social services remove children from abusive homes, taxpayers are left with the bill.
What happens when every state legislates casino gambling? There isn’t enough money to go around to support all of them, resulting in failed enterprises that ultimately will saddle the states they are in or at the very least the investors or financial institutions that fund the projects. Even now, some states are witnessing so-called destination casinos falling into hard times and even bankruptcy.
Did I mention Connecticut and New Jersey? Both casinos in Connecticut have seen dramatic drops in revenue due to the Rhode Island casino appearing on the scene. In Atlantic City, Revel Casino entered bankruptcy a year ago and has taken Wall Street for a $2.5 billion ride.
We are coming to the point where too many states are legislating casino gambling. We are reaching or have already reached the saturation stage where there will be no money left. Saturation? What is that, you ask? Ask W. T. Grant, First National Stores, Grossmans, Montgomery Ward, Grand Union, the list goes on and on. Failures such as these create economic woes for investors, cities and towns that depend on the income or revenue from tax bases, now lost, which falls eventually on the taxpayer.
If New Hampshire residents wish to go Massachusetts or other states for their gambling, let them. If New Hampshire becomes the only state without one, we will still have the “New Hampshire Advantage” and we won’t have the cleanup costs after a closure of a casino.
Bob Stanton is the retired director of the state insurance fraud division.