The Nashua Telegraph reports that New Hampshire state governor John Lynch is considering the intra-state legalisation of online gambling as one option to close the budget gap currently facing the New England state.
Governor Lynch's spokesman, Colin Manning, said Friday that the governor will unveil his plan after the Easter break....and the legalisation of online gambling is one of the vehicles he has been reviewing.
Gov. Lynch recently opposed a legislative push to permit slot machines and casino-style gambling in Hudson and at five other New Hampshire sites. The House is now debating a Senate-approved bill that allows up to 17 000 land-based legalised slot machines and table games in the state.
The governor opposes the Senate bill because it fails to prevent the proliferation of gambling. But online betting would, in fact, allow for gambling’s proliferation, according to Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, a Democrat from Manchester and the prime author of the bill.
“I haven’t seen his proposal,” D’Allesandro said. “But if the governor is afraid of proliferation, what easier way to proliferate it than online gambling?”
The newspaper notes that Americans account for half the $16 billion spent globally on poker and other online games that are operated outside the U.S., and that New Hampshire has no law expressly prohibiting online betting.
Lynch met recently with state Lottery commissioners, and Internet gambling is one of the options that was discussed, Manning said.
“The governor is working on developing a comprehensive strategy to address the revenue shortfall,” Manning said. “There are a number of options the governor is looking at.”
Lynch will continue talking with lawmakers until a decision is reached, Manning said.
Further opposition can be expected from former state Sen. Bob Clegg, who now works as a lobbyist for Green Meadow Golf Club, which aims to bring a land casino and resort to Hudson.
“The governor is worried about proliferation of gaming but it sounds like he’s going to make every computer terminal in every home and every BlackBerry – including those BlackBerrys held by kids in high school – a gambling facility,” Clegg said. He added that online gambling doesn’t create many jobs, and could be handled by someone out of state.
Those behind gaming sites in New Hampshire contend the casinos will create jobs and boost flagging state and local revenue.
Such an operation in Hudson would bring the town as much as $10 million in annual tax revenue, Jay Leonard, the Green Meadow project attorney, said. About 3,800 jobs would be created, some of which will be trickle-down positions at restaurants and other businesses, and about 1,900 construction workers would be needed to build the resort, he said.
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