Millennium Gaming, Anti-Gambling Group Speak Out on Hassan Budget
We have received comments from individuals on both ends of the debate.
Individuals on both ends of the expanded gaming debate spoke out yesterday about Gov. Maggie Hassan's inclusion of $80 million in casino revenue in her state budget.
Rich Killion, spokesperson for Millennium Gaming, spoke to the message that Hassan is sending to New Hampshire.
"We're happy to see the process started by (a) very strong message in support of expanded gambling by Governor Hassan and the need to compete against Massachusetts," he said.
Killion was in Salem last week for a forum at Rockingham Park, which would be one of the top candidates for a casino should the expanded gaming bill pass through the legislature.
Killion praised Senate Bill 152, which will be presented on Feb. 19 by bi-partisan co-sponsors Sens. Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manchester) and Chuck Morse (D-Salem).
"(The bill) has a carefully constructed, constitutionally sound and pragmatic process that can issue a license in this biennium."
The Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling bemoaned Hassan's inclusion of casinos in her budget address.
Chairman Jim Rubens issued a statement:
"Casino social costs are not already here," he said. "Destroying New Hampshire families to raise gambling taxes would be an egregious error. We cannot rectify Massachusetts' mistake in legalizing casinos by compounding the problem and bringing them here."
The release from GSCAEG outlines four "immutable" problems in Hassan's proposal:
1. The House will, once again, reject casino gambling.
2. Governor Lynch’s Gaming Study Commission found that New Hampshire’s gambling regulations are insufficient even for the gambling we now have. Casinos cannot be highly regulated, as Governor Hassan has promised, when at least two years are not allowed to carefully design regulations, select carefully among competing bidders, and complete background checks. Multiple New Hampshire Attorneys General have testified to the legislature that background checks alone require a full year to complete. Rushing this process sharply increases the risk of irreversible errors and political corruption.
3. Assuming that the House reverses its decades-long rejection of casinos and legalizes casinos as of July 1, 2013, casino license revenues will not flow into the general fund until mid-2105 at the earliest. Building $80 million in license money into the budget will result in the need for sharp budget cuts during the second year of the biennium, resulting in budget chaos and embarrassment by those who’ve promised this money to constituents.
4. The $80 million in license money will create unsustainable budgets at the University of New Hampshire and state agencies promised this money because casino operating revenues will not fully ramp up for several years, given casino construction phasing, more intense competition from larger, better located Massachusetts casinos, and the reduced 25 percent tax rate in SB152, the Governor’s preferred casino legislation.
The coalition has bi-partisan membership and has existed since 1991.