The New Hampshire House is a 400-member body of men and women who exercise their independent judgment to represent the interests of the people of the Granite State. They are scheduled to make a vote today that will either reaffirm that representation or slowly, inexorably cede it to the out-of-state, big-money forces of casino gambling.
In some ways this vote could return us to a century ago when the Boston and New York railroads controlled our state Legislature, and made no bones about it. The money the railroads showered on Concord will pale in comparison to the money behind those who want to control casino gambling here.
New Hampshire will try its best to control gambling, no doubt, and current legislators may think it will all be fine. The power shift will be slow and subtle, but hard to stop. It won’t end with one beautiful, high-end casino with fancy restaurants and grand entertainment.
As a friend of ours noted after a recent visit to Nevada, the glitzy casinos on the Vegas strip give way to dark and dingy hotel parlors in other tourist areas of the state that now sprout poker machines and a definite non-family atmosphere. (See today’s Editorial Page A6, for more on Nevada.)
New Hampshire can do better than this. New Hampshire can continue to be a standout state, a bring-the-family tourism state, a high-tech state. It doesn’t need big gambling and its unintended but unforgiving consequences.