Voting for the New Hampshire Senate casino bill is a violation of the NH Constitution
The governor of New Hampshire proposed a 2 year budget that increases spending by somewhere between 10% to 16%, depending on how you look at it. Increasing state taxes is unpopular in New Hampshire, so in order to help pass the spending increases the governor and some members of the General Court (in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire House and New Hampshire Senate are collectively referred to as the General Court) want, some people are urging the passage of a casino bill crafted by the New Hampshire Senate.
Most people are in favor of allowing full fledged casinos in New Hampshire. The major obstacle for SB152 is that it doesn’t create full fledged casinos in NH. SB152 creates only 1 casino in NH. Not only that but all signs point to the casino being at Rockingham Park in Salem, NH. It get’s worse, the only major suspected casino operator is Millennium Gaming, which has already come up with plans for a casino at Rockingham Park, including this drawing.
Governor Maggie Hassan included $80,000,000 in a fee the casino operator must pay the state upfront in her proposed 2 year budget. However, according to the bill, before a casino may be approved, the proposed casino must “be voted upon” by the prospective community. Guess which community vote to have a casino in the most recent election? Salem, NH. Some people suggest that it will be hard for the state to collect the $80,000,000 fee during the next budget cycle as their is too much to do before a casino may be approved and built. If the community already voted on having a casino, that might speed the process up.
With 1 major casino on the NH/MA border in southeastern NH, what happens to the multiple charitable gambling and bingo parlors located throughout NH? There is a good chance that most or all of them will dry out and if a NH resident wants to play poker or Black Jack for a few dollars, her only legal options will be to drive to NY, CT, MA, another state or this 1 location in NH.
Only 1 casino run by only 1 private corporation in only 1 community violates Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution.
[Art.] 83. [Encouragement of Literature, etc.; Control of Corporations, Monopolies, etc.]
Free and fair competition in the trades and industries is an inherent and essential right of the people and should be protected against all monopolies and conspiracies which tend to hinder or destroy it. The size and functions of all corporations should be so limited and regulated as to prohibit fictitious capitalization and provision should be made for the supervision and government thereof. Therefore, all just power possessed by the state is hereby granted to the general court to enact laws to prevent the operations within the state of all persons and associations, and all trusts and corporations, foreign or domestic, and the officers thereof, who endeavor to raise the price of any article of commerce or to destroy free and fair competition in the trades and industries through combination, conspiracy, monopoly, or any other unfair means; to control and regulate the acts of all such persons, associations, corporations, trusts, and officials doing business within the state; to prevent fictitious capitalization; and to authorize civil and criminal proceedings in respect to all the wrongs herein declared against.
The people of NH have an inherent and essential right to be protected from monopolies. The General Court is granted power by the state to among other things, prevent monopolies. If the General Court allows a bill that creates only 1 casino run by only 1 private corporation in only 1 community, it destroys free and fair competition in an industry by granting monopoly privileged. This is in clear violation of 1 of the main purposes of the General Court.
The NH House Joint Fiance and Ways and Means Committee brings up a couple additional anti-competitive points in its blurb recommending that the NH House vote down SB152. “Specifically, a lower licensing fee combined with higher tax rates would likely maximize revenue for the state. Other states have used a bidding process to find the highest rate and employed consultants to help create a financial structure. SB 152 does neither. In addition, the minimum required investment is not high enough to generate the highest revenues we could reasonably expect. SB 152 grants a “forever” license for a low renewal fee due every 10 years. A more prudent approach would be to increase the length of the license and then require a higher fee through a competitive re-licensing process.”
Would any member of the General Court that voted for Democratic Senator Lou D’Allesandro’s SB152 casino bill be violating their oath of office to uphold the New Hampshire Constitution?