Having been treated to gambling day in the New Hampshire Senate Tuesday, our fair Granite Staters will have another opportunity to explore the realm of "read em and weep" tomorrow.
It's gambling afternoon in the House Ways and Means Committee.
At 1 p.m., Lincoln Republican Edmond Gionet's bill is scheduled. Unless it runs late (and don't bet on it finishing on time), my gambling bill will be heard at 2 p.m.
To quote the late great President who was in fact a crook, "Let me make one thing perfectly clear."
I offer my bill not because I expect it will pass, but simply because if the state is to go forward with any gambling plan, it MUST NOT be the Hassan-D'Allesandro-Morse plan which provides a monopoly for one company, most likely the out of state Millennium which owns Rockingham Park in Salem.
My bill, closely modeled, after one put forward in 2009 by then Senator and now Mayor Ted Gatsas of Manchester, allows 5000 machines just like the Senate bill, but it splits them up in six establishments (four with 600 machines each; two with 1300 each). Rather than allowing the operators, the out of staters like Millennium, to keep most of the profits, my bill returns 60 percent to state coffers. I'll be urging Ways and Means members to compare the financial notes from the Senate bill and my bill which, in honor of Mayor Gatsas, I'm once again calling "Your Honorable Plan for Expanded Gambling".
I have prepared an updated sheet which breaks out how the plan will work; how the state and the six operators will in a sense form a partnership; how the six entities would have to bid for the privilege of joining in (I continue to insist gambling is a license to print money) with a minimum of $10 million for the two large facilities, $5 million for the four small ones. Thus while this bill would bring in $40 million in upfront money (half the one Hassan proposes), the state would reap hundreds of millions of dollars more in the very short term!
If we're going to move toward gambling, it must not be a monopoly.
It should not be in one location. The Honorable Plan would allow Salem, Hudson, Manchester, Loudon, and a North Country location all to get a piece of the pie (and one other location to boot).
As of now, I only have a written version of the detailed handout, but I expect to have an electronic version which I will post here tomorrow. I was going to invite Mayor Gatsas to come up to testify for the bill (he deserves more credit than I do), but I understand that after presenting last night's city budget, Hizzoner headed off to Aruba.
By the way, the Gatsas budget would mean a 2.1 percent increase in Manchester property taxes; too much as far as I'm concerned, but probably not enough for those who feed off taxpayers. I've already heard Aldermen are threatening to override the spending cap...but I digress.
2 p.m. Ways and Means on the second floor of the LOB, Thursday, Feb. 21...it should be fun...not to mention profitable for our great state.