Opponents have tried to argue the original plan is too flawed and not worth any work. It’s not enough to say the bill is flawed and just give up. That is giving in to the will of opponents who do not want to see any gambling proposal pass the House. It’s an excuse, and it is not how we do things in the Legislature.
That’s not why voters sent us to Concord. They expect us to do our work and finish the job. There’s a lot at stake.
SB 152 will bring hundreds of millions of new private investment dollars into New Hampshire for the construction of a new high-end, highly regulated casino. This huge capital investment is being made with private funds but will certainly benefit a multitude of local building and building supply companies. It will also lead to greatly expanded permanent employment opportunities once the casino commences operations.
In addition, the casino will provide critically needed revenue to meet state and local needs, helping to close gaps in funding for higher education, school building and other local aid, uncompensated care by hospitals, mental health and addiction services, and assistance with economic development in the North Country. These are non-tax dollars that have the support of an overwhelming number of voters, the New Hampshire Senate and the governor.
With Massachusetts aggressively moving forward with expanded gambling, if New Hampshire does not develop a plan, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies concluded, the state will lose $75 million a year to Massachusetts in rooms and meals, lottery and social costs. The time has come.
We urge our colleagues to give us a chance to respect public opinion and move forward now, before we lose out to Massachusetts. Let’s have the debate.
State Rep. Gary S. Azarian of Salem is a member of the New Hampshire House Ways and Means Committee.