The House last week tabled a bill that would legalize slot-machine parlors in New Hampshire. These are not the grand destination casinos most people think of when "expanded gambling" is mentioned. These are more like warehouses full of slot machines. It is a shame the House did not kill the bill outright, for these beasts would be worse for New Hampshire than half a dozen resort casinos.
Any casino would be heavily dependent upon slot machines. They are the key to the financial success of the "gaming" industry. Programmed to produce addictive reactions, modern "one-armed bandits" are highly effective at separating people from their money by manipulating their emotions. Slot machines are so effective at this task that they account for about 70 percent of an average casino's revenue, according to the American Gaming Association.
So why are slots parlors worse than destination casinos? Because they have none of the other attractions of the casino. They do not attract out-of-staters who want to gamble, dine and take in a show. They would simply prey upon Granite Staters. They would divert local money from existing entertainment options.
Casinos have their negatives, too. There are the social consequences as well as the economic ones. Existing entertainment venues, for example, probably would lose a lot of business, and crime will increase.
If we get casinos, we will get slots parlors too, eventually. Once gambling is here, it will proliferate like kudzu through the South. But going with just slots parlors would bring all of the negatives without many, if any, of the positives.