Advocates of opening a big resort casino in New Hampshire say that expanded gambling will not fundamentally transform the state because the state will control it. Nevada’s experience says otherwise.
Nevada legalized gambling in 1869. Las Vegas restricted gambling in that city to a few blocks. The social problems got so bad that the state outlawed gambling in 1910, the Las Vegas Sun relays in its history of Nevada gambling. Then the Depression came. In 1931, the state legalized gambling for the purpose of stimulating the economy. (Sound familiar?)
The legislator who sponsored the bill was Phil Toobin, a 29-year-old cowboy. He lived to see gambling take on a life of its own. In an interview near the end of his life, he said, “I don’t think it’s right allowing these one-armed bandits in every supermarket … and restaurant in the state,” according to the Sun.
Just last month, Nevada legislators voted to further regulate small slots parlors, which have spread so thickly that they are taking business away from the casinos. It is naive to think that New Hampshire can break the gambling industry to the saddle of the state. With all that money comes tremendous political influence. One casino will become three, or five. Slots parlors will proliferate. Addiction, crime and corruption will rise. It is inevitable. That is the nature of the gambling industry. Let it in, and New Hampshire will change forever.