If the Senate bill that proposes a single casino in the state becomes law it “would dedicate millions of dollars per year directly to North Country economic development,” Governor Maggie Hassan said during a speech Thursday night before the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
That would spur business and job growth “helping us attract new companies by marketing the North Country’s advantages to businesses in Canada and elsewhere,” she told about 125 people at the Log Haven Restaurant on lonely Route 26 in Millsfield, about 145 miles from Concord.
Gambling in the United States has exploded over the last 30 years. More and more, budget-slashing states are becoming increasingly dependent on lottery and other gambling revenues, and politicians are lobbying for expanded gambling, including here in New Hampshire, where Governor Maggie Hassan has included a line item for $80 million in the budget for casino licensing fees. Hassan has been pushing hard for the construction of a single high-end casino near the Massachusetts border, but opponents point out that problem gambling is on the rise – in fact, pathological gambling is now being recognized on par with alcohol and drug addiction. In 2011, we spoke with investigative journalist Sam Skolnik, whose book, High Stakes: The Rising Costs of America’s Gambling Addiction, unpacks the rise of politically supported gambling, as well as its many hazards.
The New Hampshire Senate has voted 16-8 to authorize a single casino on the Massachusetts border. The Senate margin is the strongest yet for a casino bill. But the real fight on this issue will be in the New Hampshire House.
Governor Hassan began her day before the Senate Ways and Means committee. She delivered a pro-gambling pitch familiar from her budget address last week -- New Hampshire needs to act to authorize a casino with 5000 slot machines and 150 table games before similar facilities open in Massachusetts.