Of the effects casino gambling would have on a state, like New Hampshire, that has no casinos, one could say many truthful things. That these glorified slot machine warehouses would make the state stronger and more innovative is not among them. How did Gov. Maggie Hassan ever wind up saying such a thing? Politics, naturally.
When the huge House committee tasked with studying the Senate's gambling bill voted last week to recommend that the bill be killed, Hassan urged representatives to do the opposite and "vote in favor of moving forward with our own plan to build a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire." Such a plan would be welcome. Any representative looking for it in the casino bill will be disappointed, for it is not there.
Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, writing for the majority of the Joint Committee of Finance and Ways and Means, made a thorough case against Senate Bill 152 in this week's House calendar. Her meticulous chronicle of the bill's myriad weaknesses provides representatives with voluminous reasons to vote against the bill. Hassan, the bill's primary champion, gives only vague campaign soundbites. She is like a television character who has to utter her signature catch-phrase several times an episode, even if it has to be crammed awkwardly into a scene in which it does not fit.
There is nothing remotely "innovative" about bringing slot-machine casino gambling to New Hampshire. Such entities will neither strengthen the state nor provide stable revenue for its government. By and large, they will consume money Granite Staters would have spent elsewhere, or saved. Their appeal for Hassan rests solely in the state's larger share of the take.
Siphoning a portion of a casino's gambling winnings into state coffers is not innovative. It is lazy. Real innovation comes not from collecting and redistributing easy money, but from doing the hard work of finding more creative, more efficient ways to perform the state's necessary functions so that the state does not have to separate the people from any more of their hard-earned money.