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April 23. 2014 5:55PM

Slots proliferation: Not here, not there, not anywhere

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Hemingway is developing what he calls a compromise plan for expanded gambling — no casino, but let the state’s existing charity gaming halls have slot machines. That is expanded gambling by another name.

The state’s existing charity gaming structure works well because it is based on poker and bingo. Poker is a game of skill and bingo is a low-excitement game not known for its addictive properties. Slot machines are another matter entirely.

One reason casinos never pass the House no matter how their proponents rearrange the revenue is because the proposed casinos are always filled with slot machines. Look at the casino bills, and it is evident how dependent they are on slots revenue. The state’s take, like the casino’s, comes overwhelmingly from the shiny, flashy computers programmed to separate people from their money. In the latest casino bill, 83 percent of the state’s predicted revenue comes from slot machines.

Nothing in the gambling universe works like slot machines do. They are programmed to produce an addictive response. They create victims — by design. Spread them throughout our charity gaming establishments and they will do the job they were created to do ruthlessly and efficiently.

Then they will spread. The great volumes of cash they vacuum out of the pockets of Granite Staters will pile so high that the state, greedy for more, will expand slots to more venues. Soon we will have slots parlors, joyless little warehouses where people do nothing but mindlessly feed the machines. Expanders will then ask: “Why house slot machines in these dingy little dens when we can put them in a shiny new casino and quintuple our money?”

No, slots at charity halls would be no better, and probably worse, than slots at a few casinos.


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