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John F.J. Sullivan - Casino gambling slightly favored, but NH is hardly ‘all in’

By John F.J. Sullivan, Live Free or Die Alliance (

On May 15, a New Hampshire House joint Fiscal and Ways & Means Committee voted 23-22 against Senate Bill 152, which seeks to clear the way for a single casino in the Granite State’s southern tier. An assessment of the Live Free or Die Alliance’s 13,500 Facebook followers who responded to a related question showed strong support for casino gambling in New Hampshire, though a significant level of opposition was also evident.

In the wake of the House “supercommittee’s” vote, we asked our followers: “Do you support or oppose casino gambling in New Hampshire?” Within 24 hours the question received 126 responses, including “likes,” “shares” and comments, from 115 individuals.

Most (56 percent) expressed support for casino gambling, while 32 percent opposed it and 12 percent of the comments were either judged unresponsive to the question or too ambivalent to tally.

Those who supported casino gambling pointed to its potential for revenue (and the hopes that slot machines and legalized, for-profit table games would serve as a hedge against future tax increases). What’s more, supporters said, other states have already figured this out.

“I wholeheartedly support casino gambling in NH, and really wish we could get this going sooner rather than later,” said one woman whose comment was echoed by many. “We are losing huge amounts of revenue to other states. We need to keep NH money in NH, and get other people to come here to gamble.”

Others said that, in a free society, the state shouldn’t attempt to “legislate morality” and ridiculed arguments tying gambling to vice and more serious crime. “The arguments against it are weak. People that oppose it lead sheltered silver spoon lives,” one man said. “The problems they say it will create already exist and have for a while.”

But opponents insisted that a casino promises nothing more than profits to gambling moguls and would present a dangerous distraction to New Hampshire’s fiscal problems.

“This will victimize the weakest in our society, increase crime, and siphon off business from legitimate enterprises,” one man said. “Most of the money goes out of state. This scheme simply points out the need to implement real reform.”

In addition to the pros and cons, just over 7 percent of respondents criticized the “one casino” model, regardless of whether they supported or opposed gambling in general. One respondent who said gambling wouldn’t pay off as a panacea for the state’s fiscal woes suggested that, were New Hampshire to expand gambling, it should allow small casinos or video poker at numerous established businesses, rather than looking to a single casino. Another, a man who supports expanded gambling, objected to state-sanctioned “gambling monopolies.”

The Live Free or Die Alliance presents this report not as any sort of scientific poll or survey, but rather a digest of citizen testimony. As New Hampshire's Town Hall, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Live Free or Die Alliance is free and open to all, offering a unique and important mechanism for nearly 16,000 community members to express their views.

As legislation to allow casino gambling makes its way to the House floor this week, lawmakers – already equipped with their own research, judgment and conscience – would be wise to recognize the views of the citizens. Judging from our response, support for Senate Bill 152 is significant, though hardly absolute and not without reservation.

John F.J. Sullivan is editor-in-chief of the Live Free or Die Alliance (



  Looking for a secure job?  Look no further than Governor of New Hampshire.  That is, as long as you are a Democrat who is pragmatic enough to pledge to veto an income or sales tax, who can exude an air of likability while running a ruthlessly negative campaign, and who can give the appearance of governing from the middle even when you are not. 

            Jeanne Shaheen: three terms, then left by her own choice to pursue higher office.  (Yeah, I know she won without taking the pledge her last term, but that campaign against Humphrey could have made even a David Axelrod wince.)  John Lynch: four terms, then made an early (some would say premature) decision to retire to his dacha in Hopkinton because he didn’t foresee Narwhal eating over one-half of the House Republicans.  While, on the other hand, poor Craig Benson (that’s poor in the figurative sense of course) was retired after one short term spent primarily butting heads with House and Senate Republican leadership (which in part was why he was a one-and-done Governor). 

            So history suggests that, if the New Hampshire GOP wants to stop Maggie Hassan from having a long shelf life, they better pull out all the stops in 2014.

            It should be self-evident after nine elections, and a winning percentage of barely above 10 percent, that the best possible candidate is essential.  No sacrificial lambs or sentimental favorites this time.  This race, not the United States Senate race or the Congressional races, is the most consequential for the future of the New Hampshire GOP and the future of the State. 

            While it is often said that New Hampshire has a weak Governor, the Governor still wields a veto and has the power to nominate judges and senior bureaucrats.  Despite all the histrionics about a “tea-party legislature” gone wild, 2011-2012 was far from transformative.  We still have a fiscally irresponsible defined-benefit retirement plan for public-sector employees, a fiscally irrational education funding system and a plethora of destructive, rent-seeking regulations. And despite an Executive Council consisting of five Republicans, Governor Lynch succeeded in putting not just a committed Claremontista on the Supreme Court, but a committed Claremontista who made no bones about being a committed Claremontista.  The New Hampshire GOP is never going to fundamentally change the political culture of this State without holding the Governor’s office.      

            It is also essential that Republican legislative leadership understand that the race for 2014 started as soon as the vote counting ended in 2012, and act in a manner that helps, not hurts, the next GOP gubernatorial nominee.  Shaheen and Lynch were able to portray themselves as bipartisan while governing as pragmatic partisans, and look at the political success they enjoyed.  Hassan, obviously, means to follow in their footsteps.  

            This doesn’t mean that Republicans in the House and Senate should obstruct simply for the sake of obstructing.  But they must not compromise simply for the sake of compromising.  There is considerable cause for concern because Senate Republicans and, based on their selection of Gene Chandler as Minority Leader, a small majority of House Republicans are smaller-government conservatives rather than small-government conservatives. 

            Smaller-government conservatism –moderating Democrat policies rather than presenting alternatives– plays into the hands of pragmatic partisans like Shaheen, Lynch and Hassan.  They get to grow government while wearing the mantle of bipartisanship.  While their base may grouse about the pace of change being too slow, the base clearly learned its lesson from the Mark Fernald debacle in 2002.  Just ask Jackie Cilley.

            Two areas are particularly concerning:gambling and an education funding amendment.

            Any gambling bill that does not dedicate all gambling-generated revenues to reducing existing taxes is a grow-the-government bill.  If the State Senate passes a gambling bill that provides some tax relief, but also materially increases spending, we might as well just ask Hassan how long she would like to serve and then tell Bill Gardner to leave the Governor’s race off the ballot until that point.  She will be able to run as a tax-cutter while doling out cash to her special interest supporters.  No Republican support for gambling unless it is a true tax-relief measure.

            Senate Republicans, and many House Republicans, have shown a willingness to support an education funding amendment that, while giving the elected branches more control over how to divvy up the education funding pie, cedes to the Court the authority to determine the size of the pie, its ingredients, and how it gets made.  Republican support for such an inadequate amendment would allow Hassan to run as the Governor who solved Claremont, without losing the support of the teacher unions.  Republicans need to stick to the amendment that passed the Senate last session and narrowly failed in the House.


Your Honorable Compromise Plan For Expanded Gambling

By Rep Steve Vaillancourt

Interesting stuff here.  Here's the way the ITL on HB489 broke down.  If I'm off by a number with this quick count, please let me know.

Overall 212-158, 57.3 percent (my prediction was 210-160).

Dems 119-84, 58.6 percent

GOP 93-74, 55,8 percent.

Three counties for expansion--guess what--the three that would most benefit by slots.

Coos 4-7

Rockingham 39-43

Hillsborough 57-58

Least for gambling

Grafton 21-3 (D Butynski, D Robers, D Lerandeau)

Cheshire 21-3 (R Gionet, R Maybeck, D Laliberte)


Carroll 8-4

Sullivan 7-4

Merrimack 26-15

Strafford 20-13

Nahua 12-14 (D 8-13, R 4-1)

Manchester 9-21 (D 3-20, R 6-1)

Hudson district 12-1 (Gandia)

Your Honorable Gambling Compromise is being drafted as an amendment to SB450.

It'l be 6000 machines (4 locations of 1200 each, 2 of 600 each), totally state run with six facilities bidding to simply host the machines (minimum bids of $12 million times four  and $6  million times two for $60 million up front money to state; 25 percent ($15 million)  to commission to establish administration, 75  percent ($45 million) to general fund.  

Facilities get to keep 15 percent of revenues, state gets 60 percent, 1 percent for host community, the other 24 percent for administration costs (16 percent to staff facilities, 6 percent for machine suppliers, 2 percent for central computer). 


Addendum Received via email 4/23


Your Honorable Compromise Plan for Expanded Gambling


In answer to numerous questions, Senator Gatsas put bullet points together for his expanded gambling bill (SB169) last year.  I’ve updated them for you here.

§       When the plan was first advanced, Senator Gatsas had it critiqued by then Attorney General Phil McLaughlin, and his concerns were addressed.

  • The plan establishes a Gaming Oversight Authority (GOA) comprised of the Commissioner of Safety, the Commissioner of Revenue Administration, and the Commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development.  The Commissioner of Safety will serve as Chair.  This is especially important now that the Governor’s Commission is stressing that better oversight is needed.
  • The plan authorizes a maximum of four 1200 machine facilities and two 600 machine facilities for a maximum of 6000 machines statewide.
  • To minimize state control, this is a partnership with the six facilities which will be chosen to lease space to the state (in exchange for a 15 percent share of proceeds).  It is also a partnership with a centralized computer system provider (two percent); and video lottery terminal (VLT) providers (six percent).
  • The 16 percent designated for the Gambling Oversight Authority will be used to hire personnel to handle all money and machines at the six facilities.  There is enough money herein for proper managers to be hired (at the appropriate salary to run the program) and to ensure strict enforcement of all regulations.
  • The six facilities will hire all personnel dealing with food and beverages and will keep all the profit from these ancillary functions (with the state getting the usual rooms and meals tax, of course).  The six facilities will also be responsible for maintaining the space, including hiring all cleaning personnel.  They will pay for this from the 15 percent fee to facilities licensee.  They will also be responsible for the heat, electricity, water, sewer, and any other maintenance of the facility. 
  • The GOA will certify net machine income (NMI) and establish a centralized computer system linking all video lottery machines to ensure the control of the machines (two percent of revenues is set aside for this)
  • The GOA will enter into lease agreements with up to three technology providers to provide leased video lottery machines to the state. Providers will receive six percent for this service.  Thus the better the machines, the more the providers will make. Thus, the incentive to provide the most modern and “best” machines.
  • No person under the age of 21 will be allowed to play at VLT.  If they are caught violating this provision, the penalty will be a fine of no more than $1000.  If a state employee knowingly allows someone under the age of 21 to play, he or she will be subject to a $1000 fine and an administrative penalty of $50,000.
  • The video lottery machines will pay out at least 92 percent on an annual basis (this was 87 percent in the original Gatsas plan, but all indications are that 92 percent is more of an industry norm).
  • The GOA will grant 6 facilities licenses.  These will go to the highest bidders from any location in the state with a $12 million minimum bid for a 1200 machine facility and $6 million minimum for a 600 machine facility.  25 percent of this up front money (at least $15 million) will serve as seed money for the GOA.  75 percent (at least $45 million) will go to the state general fund.  Ten percent of the bid money must accompany the bid but is refundable should the applicant not be granted a facility.  Beyond that, to prevent a pre-existing casino (a lobbyist suggested Foxwoods) from gaming the system by bidding for a facility it never intends to operate, an organization granted the bid will have 30 days to pay in the remaining 90 percent.  If it fails to do so, the GOA will offer the facility to the next highest bidder.
  • The original Gatsas plan called on the GOA to consider these criteria in awarding facility licenses.  The language remains in the bill (in the case of tie bids).

1.     Evidence provided that local approval has been granted.

2.     The regional location of the prospective facilities licensee (an earlier incarnation that only one facility be granted per county has been dropped).

3.     A detailed economic plan for the municipality and surrounding region including:  unemployment in the area, direct and indirect employment gain, effect on tourism based economy, effect on regional economic development.

4.     A business plan to support the video lottery machines.

5.     Qualification of those who own or manage the prospective license facilities.

6.     Regional population.

7.     Vehicle traffic.

8.     Total square footage of the facility and the total acreage of the facility.

9.     Availability of suitable infrastructure.

10.  Availability of adequate parking.

11.  Other information as the GOA may require.

  • An extensive investigation will be carried out by the office of the Attorney General; a report of results will be presented to the GOA within 90 days.  The final decision will also be based on the applicant providing evidence of financial stability to the GOA, and are of good character and integrity as it pertains to their business activities and financial affairs.
  • The application will include the full name, residence, date of birth, and other personal identifying information of the applicant, and if a corporation or other form of business enterprise exists, the same information shall be provided with respect to each partner, trustee, officer, director, and any shareholder or other holder who owns more than 5% of the legal or beneficial interests of the entity.
  • In order to apply, a prospective facility must pay a $150,000 non-refundable application and investigation fee.
  • A facilities license will be granted for five years although the GOA has the right to suspend or revoke the license at any time.  A facilities license cannot be assigned, transferred or sold. 
  • Before an applicant can apply for a facilities license from the state to operate video lottery machines, it must have the approval of its local community.  The community may approve this operation at a town meeting or by voting on an official ballot during a municipal election per RSA 39:3.
  • A Division of Gaming Enforcement will be established to operate the video lottery machines located in the six facilities.  The Director will hire and manage employees for the day to day operations ensuring the integrity of the program.
  • The host community (city of town) will receive one percent of revenues generated from that facility.  No other dedicated funds are established in this plan.



Why Not Support Gambling

by Salar Reps

I read your article contacting NH council of Churches regarding gaming.  I have a family member who is under State programs and I also know many families who rely on Medicaid to take care of their loved ones.  None of us want to impose on the state for help but we have no choice.  If gaming isn’t brought into the state to help the budget deficit everyone, the DD population, the elderly, TBI population will not get the help they desperately need. 

It would be great if life was fair and good and everyone was healthy.  We wouldn’t need State liquor stores to sell alcohol and support and encourage people who are alcoholics, we wouldn’t have to sell cigarettes and encourage people to smoke and develop lung cancer and other diseases and we wouldn’t need to look at gaming to bring revenue in, not only to meet the needs of our less fortunate, but also help our state infrastructure. 

If the church officials have resentments against gaming they should also reconsider if they drink and smoke. 

Thanks for listening 



By jamesm_asi

Nazi Swine. Are you godadamn mad people?  The casinos are good for the economy, END OF STORY. You hide behind religion and quality of life arguments. Hows the quality of life when working people get more taxes dumped on them? Your reporting is perversion of journalism at the truest form. The least you can do is report all of the facts and let sheep who read your bullshit make an EDUCATED decision on how feel. Perversion of the truth is no better than lying. JESUS DOENT LIKE LIARS.Go fuck yourselves!

Editors Note:

Received this missive via email. Seems someone has anger management issues! Do you think they spent more than a minute or two before deciding NHInsider's position on Gambling!

I do plan on responding to him but where to start.. So help out and leave a message for jamesm_asi!