What I did on Tuesday

If you’re curious about my travels on Tuesday, here’s a third-party account of what went down: From Foster’s Online:

A legislative committee studying expanded gambling options heard the pros and cons of putting casino-style gaming at the state’s racetracks on Tuesday.

The state attorney general’s office, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police and the New Hampshire Restaurant and Lodging Association were some of the groups who voiced opposition to expanded gambling.

Associate Attorney General Ann Rice said her office has traditionally been “unbending” in its opposition to slot machines at the tracks and that position has not changed. Rice said those who can least afford to gamble throw the most money into it and expanded gambling will lead to an increase in crime.

“We have great concern for setting the groundwork for increases in those social ills,” Rice said. “We can debate the numbers, but the impact on individuals is clear.”

Pro-gambling supporters brought in Professor David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Schwartz tried to dispel some of the stereotypes connected to gambling including the belief that organized crime runs the industry.

“It’s important to realize a lot of the perceptions out there are not accurate. It’s a business,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz went on to tell the panel that expanded gambling has been embraced by a number of states to enhance revenues, adding the industry is “transparent.”

“The revenue stream is very open to the public, more so than any other industry,” Schwartz added.

Revenues are the driver behind a push to expand gambling in this state. During the last budget process, the state was a facing a potential $300 million shortfall by the end of the current biennium in June 2007. Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, introduced a bill last year which would have put nearly 4,000 slot machines at the state’s racetracks which was estimated to bring $250 million to the state. That piece of legislation was held in the Senate Ways and Means Committee as legislative budget writers worked to plug the potential hole by cutting some services and relying on increased revenues due to a rebounding economy.

N.H. panel debates casino-style gaming

It’s great to have an opportunity to paint the casino industry as it really is. Unfortunately, many people just fall back on “what they’ve seen in movies” when it comes to casinos.

It reminds me of a quote from Tales of Future Past, considering the suspension of disbelief and space:

To the philosophers of the Middle Ages, Heaven and Earth were two distinct and separate realms. They weren’t just different locations, they were different in their very natures. Substances were different, things moved differently, and everything had its own appropriate sphere of existence. The Copernican Revolution was supposed to abolish this. Science had declared that Earth and space were the same and the rules that applied in one applied in the other with equal strength. But not according to the popular mind. Pick up any science fiction novel or video and you will be confronted with ideas that would be utterly preposterous on Earth, but are allowed a very, very generous suspension of disbelief because It Came From Outer Space.

Future Space

Of course, people who actually live near or work in casinos know that casinos aren’t some kind of otherworld, but people who only know them through television have quite another view.

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