NH Council of Churches - Public Policy Update June 4 2010

Don't Imperil Human Services - Pass a Budget WITHOUT Slots & Casinos

Final lap. You can help stop slots & casinos!
The House and Senate go into special session this coming Wed June 9. We do not know what will happen, but we do know that slot casinos are the single major point of contention between House and Senate in fashioning a budget fix.
Our goal is to persuade both Senate and House members to drop slot casinos from their respective budget proposals.
-- Call your Reps, Senator and the Governor
Ask them to vote NO on any budget including any slots or casinos.
-- Volunteer.  30 volunteers needed to leaflet and have conversation with legislators as they enter House and Senate to vote Wed. June 9 from 9:15-10:30 AM. 
Wear our new NoSlots T-shirt, stand outside Senate and House chambers, hand out the NoSlots information sheet.  Volunteers get to keep the shirt!  Call or email if you can do this (Jim Rubens, 603-359-3300, JimRubens@aol.com).
--Share this with as many others as possible.

Contact Info:
Governor's Office:  603-271-2121 or fax 603-271-7540
House        Find your House legislator here
Senate       Find your Senator here 
Pass a Responsible Budget

The Message to House - Senate - Governor

Thank you for the hard work you have done so far to achieve consensus on fixing the budget.
Closing the $295m budget gap to within striking distance has been invaluable to preserving the safety net for NH's most vulnerable citizens.
You have worked hard in a difficult process in a difficult year.  Please be creative, don't stop now, and finish the job without slots or casinos.
June 9 Special Budget Session: NO Slot Casinos

The ugliness of casino politics
Last Friday, May 28, 2010,the budget committee of conference came within $29 million of reaching bi-partisan agreement on closing a $295 million gap ... without slot casinos ... and without decimating human services. NH CARES, the coalition of human services advocates lauded the process: "Remarkably, [negotiators] reduced the gap to $29M while significantly strengthening DHHS services." 
But, Senate negotiators walked out at the 11th hour (forcing the June 9 special session), not because the last $29 million would have been impossible to find, but because it had become clear that gambling is not needed to balance the budget.
The conference committee process also opened a window into the ugliness of slot machine politics. If slot casinos are legalized, the bullying and uncivil behavior that shocked witnesses to the process will become standard procedure. The gambling industry will become the dominating state house special interest and will use these tactics to muscle the legislature almost every session to get lower tax rates, more machines, more casino locations, lower age limits, and whatever else Las Vegas wants from New Hampshire.
Proliferation cannot be stopped
The Governor's gaming study commission in its May 20 final report found that - without a constitutional amendment - it will be impossible to limit gambling casinos to a single location. There is no limited gambling. The choices are no slot casinos or eventual statewide saturation.
License revenues will not fix the current budget
"D'Allesandro acknowledged during discussion of his gambling proposal that it would "not be wise" to spend gambling license money immediately, since that money would have to be refunded if a licensee were unable to go ahead with building a casino" (reported by the Concord Monitor).
Why? The average elapsed time to revenues for the six most recent states to legalize is 25 months.
The promised 39% tax rate will drop
This rate and the resulting revenue projection must be considered high, as the rate will likely drop closer to the 25% in Connecticut and as proposed for Massachusetts. The national average casino tax rate is 22%
Negative net regional economic impact
The Governor's gaming study commission report projects $33-$60 million in annual costs among NH residents and $110-$228 million in social costs among MA residents resulting from legalization of one $500 million Salem casino. Bi-state costs therefore total $143-$288 million per year, making one Salem casino a net economic loser for the region. 
10,000 additional gambling addicts
The Commission report's midrange estimate for increased Problem and Pathological (P&P) gamblers from a single $500 million Salem casino: 10,000 NH residents. A second casino located on the seacoast or in the Lakes Region, although not precisely modeled, would bring this to the 13,000 range. These are new and additional gambling addicts, only ten percent of whom even attempt to access addiction treatment programs.
1,200 additional serious crimes
The Commission's report found that serious crimes in the regions surrounding casinos, including rape, aggravated assault, and various types of property crimes, would increase by 9 to 30%.  A single $500 million Salem casino would increase these serious crimes by over 1,200 per year in NH. This is why every NH Attorney General for the past three decades and the NH Association of Chiefs of Police oppose legalized slot casinos.
Revenue drain from existing NH businesses

Even pro-gambling business leaders are becoming aware of the fact that casinos would cannibalize the NH economy. "It's going to suck all the business out of Manchester," businessman Steve Talarico told the Union Leader in describing the impact of a Salem casino on the Manchester economy.
Negative impacts on communities surrounding casinos
The Governor's gaming commission found that: "Areas around some proposed gaming sites will face added fiscal pressures due to a range of community impacts, including housing, schools, and other infrastructure requirements, due to the possible influx of workers to staff the facilities. Such impacts will add to already severe pressures on state and local budgets, though additional revenues from gaming could help mitigate such pressures. While host communities to a gaming facility may see the greatest positive economic impact, communities surrounding the facility will receive less economic benefit while bearing additional law enforcement and other costs. Many localities and regions of the state currently lack sufficient planning capacity to anticipate and handle the potential costs of such development impacts. While the state requires affected communities to be notified about projects of regional impact, surrounding communities are not necessarily given a seat at the table to discuss impacts or a share of the revenues to help offset impacts." (Page 19)
Low casino wages increase pressure on social service budgets
You've heard casino industry promises of high wages. Fact: the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data disclose that gambling industry median wages including tips is $10.92 per hour.
Public opinion is split on casino gambling
You've heard about the gambling industry's polls. The independent ARG (March 31) poll asked:
"Do you favor or oppose a bill that would allow slot machines and table games at six casinos in New Hampshire?"
   * By 40 to 43 percent (oppose-support), voters are split almost down the middle on slot casino legalization, even after 3 solid years of Millennium's "free money from the sky" advertising and PR campaign.
    * By 48 to 40 percent, women oppose slot casinos. 
    * By 63 to 19 percent, Republican voters oppose slot casinos.