I’ll probably never understand politicians. The American state of New Hampshire, like all of the states in the Union, is hurting for cash, though some are worse off than others. New Hampshire right now is facing a growing budget deficit. Staring at all that red ink, the state lawmakers have proposed various ideas for increasing revenue. One of the ideas going through the legislature is an expansion of gambling in the state, which would legalize 17,000 slot machines and table games.
Governor John Lynch, a Democrat in his third term, has spoken out in opposition of the gambling bill. His reasons for being against gambling are the same you often hear, that it will lead to more crime and gambling addiction in the state. None of that is particularly surprising. Gambling is a divisive issue and there are a wide range of opinions on the subject.
What does surprise me is this: Recently Governor Lynch announced his own idea for how to add revenue to the state – the introduction of state-regulated (and taxed) online gambling sites. So, it seems that Lynch is against having gambling in brick and mortar casinos and pari-mutuels but he thinks it’s fine to gamble on your personal computer or iPhone.
It doesn’t make much sense to me. The skeptic in me thinks that it has something to do with lobbyists. Whatever the case, the state legislature seems to be as confused as I am. Whether gambling is added to the state via online websites or brick and mortar casinos (or both), new regulatory infrastructure will be needed. Several lawmakers who support the legalization of casinos in the state are speaking out against Lynch’s proposal, some calling him a hypocrite.
Senator Lou D’Allesandor said that “if the governor is afraid of proliferation, what easier way to proliferate it than online gambling?” Former senator Bob Clegg also pointed out that “the governor is worried about proliferation of gaming but it sounds like he’s going to make every computer terminal in every home and every BlackBerry – including those BlackBerry’s held by kids in high school — a gambling facility.”
Confusing, indeed. The state of New Hampshire does not currently have any law banning online gambling, though there is also no state regulation of the industry, nor are there any online casinos located in the state.