I’m still reading the 175 page final report of the NH Gaming Study Commission. It is far reaching in its analysis of the impact of expanded casino gaming in New Hampshire.
If there can be two words to describe what this report really means, after reading it one time I think these words are: calibrated balance. It appears that the authors of this study worked very hard at balancing casino revenues, impact to tourism and social costs. This makes sense as these are the largest issues facing New Hampshire if this legislation is passed. Typical of a report that is run by academics the report makes generous use of descriptive terms like adversely affected and uneven revenues leaving me to wonder if the social costs was/is the real argument behind the analytical work that was done with the impressive charts and graphs merely leading to the implied conclusion that expanded casino gaming is bad for New Hampshire. This too makes sense due to the fact that when the New Hampshire Gaming Study Commission was organized under order from Governor Lynch there was an immediate concern on how this study was to be paid for. Then along comes Mr. Lew Feldstein of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, I don’t know if he made arrangements for payment but I do know that he frequently uses the term social capital in context to ideas of casinos in the state.
And those who do the schillin usually get a big hand in the biddin.
One part of the gaming report I’ve never seen anywhere and is a reason for further, more detailed study. The analysis looked at tourism and day visits to New Hampshire. Leading in this category was skier visits to the North Country. On this basis the report concluded to the effect that a “casino in northern New Hampshire” would be one of the most profitable in the state. I’d have to agree with this since gambling is a part of tourism and that the visitors to the area already have discretionary income to spend at a casino. This was the first time I’ve ever seen a statistic like this, and especially in comparison with a NH casino on the Massachusetts border.
The report doesn’t take a position on the impact of brand identity, my guess is that the commission had enough money to pay for the overall issues but this analysis is extra. I also think that if the results had come in as being positive this would have tipped the balance toward pro-casino gaming and my sense is that the commission and its anti-casino members don’t want this.
So what happens next?
The answer to this question might not be as easy as it seems. For starters I think the existing proposal is flawed. Letting any state agency decide the granting of licenses and the location of casino(s) is too much power considering this issue. The volunteer legislature should decide the licenses and locations the same legislature that has been opposed to this legislation all along.