New Hampshire Governor Considers Legalizing Internet Gambling

With the state budget stretched and deficits building, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch is looking for ways to provide a much needed revenue injection for the Granite State.  One way avenue he is considering, according to The Nashua Telegraph, is legalizing internet gambling, including online poker.

“The governor is working on developing a comprehensive strategy to address the revenue shortfall,” spokesman Colin Manning told the Telegraph. “There are a number of options the governor is looking at.”

Lynch expects to unveil his internet gambling plan within the week and, to this point, no details about it are known.  One would assume that a tax would have to be paid by any company that offers online gambling, but even that is pure speculation right now.

Interestingly, the state’s House is currently debating a bill that would permit up to 17,000 slot machines and table games at licensed locations throughout New Hampshire.  Lynch has come out in opposition to the bill, which has already passed through the Senate, because it does nothing to halt the proliferation of gambling.

Supporters of the bill are, perhaps understandably, confused as to how Lynch could be concerned with the proliferation of gambling, yet want to make online gambling legal.  Former State Senator Bob Clegg said, “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.”

It should be noted that Clegg is currently serving as a lobbyist for a golf club that is looking to build a casino and resort in Hudson.  He also says that his Hudson facility would create 3,800 jobs, far more than legalized online gambling would create.

State Senator Lou D’Allesandro agrees with Clegg, saying, “I haven’t seen his proposal, but if the governor is afraid of proliferation, what easier way to proliferate it than online gambling.  Anytime you get something online, you run the risk of who’s playing, what it involves, the extent of play. We’ve had so many problems with things online.”

New Hampshire would not be the first state to consider legalizing online gambling should Lynch’s plan make any progress.  In March, New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli introduced Assembly Bill 2570, which would allow New Jersey casinos to offer internet gambling to the state’s residents.  The casinos would have to acquire a license to do so and would be required to adhere to strict regulations.  The California and Florida state governments are also considering internet gambling legislation.

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