The state’s Gambling Regulatory Oversight Authority voted 8-1 last week to recommend legislation that would establish a regulatory structure to oversee expanded gambling in New Hampshire. We commend Attorney General Joe Foster for having the guts to be the lone “no” vote.
Foster said that the proposal amounted to endorsing casino gambling, which he could not do. “We’re going from the little league to the big leagues in terms of the dollar costs of problem gamblers,” he said. “I remain concerned . . . about the social cost of bringing casino gambling into the state.”
The baseball analogy is a good one. New Hampshire’s existing charitable gaming infrastructure and its state-run lottery program already feed gambling addiction. A single casino would expand the problem, and virtually no one believes that the gambling doors will close behind New Hampshire’s first casino. If one comes, more will follow, whether they be resort casinos or sad little slots warehouses.
New Hampshire could go from small-time charity gambling to big-time casino gambling in the blink of an eye. Foster is right that simply having a regulatory infrastructure in place will not prepare the state for the problems that change will bring.