Casinos and the highway to hell

Promoters for casinos in New Hampshire almost won the war last week when the House ditched it with one vote, 173-172. If that doesn’t lay this thing out clearly, then what will? That vote makes it evident that the casino pushers have been hard at work and almost pulled off what they’re so desperate for.

Casino bills over the years were easily defeated, but this group of promoters and politicians have pushed and pushed. Now, lacking just a single vote, is tantamount to victory. Their adrenaline rush is on. They know they’re within striking distance of their goal. The people they represent be damned. So much for honest representation in the American political system.

Some politicians love to promote the casino agenda. They talk about controlled accountability. They talk about casinos solving the state’s fiscal problems. They talk about 2,000-plus employees being hired. They talk about it being good for tourism. They talk and they talk. Talk enough about anything and that issue begins to take on a veneer of acceptability even if it isn’t appropriate.

We know that politicians’ honesty with the electorate is rare. Whatever the accountability they talk about with casinos, don’t believe it. Politicians generally don’t know much about odds, statistics and probabilities. If they did they most likely would have gone into an area of employment associated with those traits. While their skill set usually isn’t with mathematics they have the ability to use words that sound good but can be misleading, to convince us to vote for them. Once in office they need to convince only themselves because there is little evidence that they represent us, the people. “Sworn in” literally means unwavering in resolve to maintain a particular situation. Evidence often abounds to the contrary.

Many jobs the casinos create might not all go to New Hampshire people. Casino history elsewhere points to the contrary. Net job growth is what’s needed everywhere in America, not just a game of employment musical chairs.

Everyone knows casinos always win. Let’s not be self-delusional. We should learn to say “no thanks” to anything where the other side always wins. To think otherwise is to abdicate common sense.

Nowhere in the country where casinos exist is there evidence that tourism increases. When you repeatedly unload your money at the same place, that’s not tourism. Gamblers don’t play at the casino and then hike in the woods and canoe down the nearest river. They remain at the casino. It’s an addiction.

Sixty-plus percent of casino revenue comes from gamblers earning less than $27,000 per year. Bankruptcies double in areas with casinos.

Casinos are predatory. More than half their revenue comes from problem gamblers. Casinos may bring in tax revenue, but it’s the worst form of regressive “taxation” imaginable. Many of the poorest fund this revenue. Gambling adversely affects family life. Divorce, child neglect and suicides are known products of gambling addictions.

Casinos depend on gamblers’ largesse, that is, on their willingness to part with money that could have fed the family today.

Casino gambling is addictive. Casino strategies stimulate the problem gambler into spending more and more. In challenging economic times, people are tempted to grasp for straws. Gambling facilitates the movement of money from the hands of many to the hands of a few large corporations whose lifeblood comes from betting by others. Talk about a perverse life transfusion.

It’s simple: if casinos didn’t win they wouldn’t exist. Period.

Gov. Maggie Hassan promoted a casino for the state since her second week in office. Never in her campaign did the electorate hear about casinos from her. She was disingenuous. She kept it hidden.

If the majority of people in New Hampshire don’t want casinos, they should not be forced to have one either by big money leverage or through government decree. Or both. The issue should be up to the people of the state, not their representatives. That sounds inane but my guess is that a statewide citizens’ referendum would produce a definitive “nay” vote, whereas the recent legislative vote came perilously close to changing the State of New Hampshire forever. One casino breeds another, two procreate more. It’s casino mitosis. Casino promoters know this all too well.

Gambling never creates real wealth except for the casino owners. Why do you think they keep knocking on the door? Why do our politicians open the door? The highway to hell is paved with “good intentions.”

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