How big or small of a regulatory bureaucracy does New Hampshire need to oversee a casino? Is the Lottery Commission equipped to do the job? Should licensing and investigatory responsibilities be doled out as separate responsibilities to separate agencies?
Those are some of the questions the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority are trying to answer as they approach a Dec. 15 deadline to recommend legislation on the laws that should oversee casino gambling, when and if casino gambling is approved in the Granite State.
To review: the Senate during the last legislative session approved legislation for a casino, supported by Gov. Maggie Hassan. But the House rejected the idea, in part because there is no existing regulatory structure for casino gambling.
In naming members of the commission, Gov. Hassan’s office outlined the mission, saying:
The commission's report shall contain recommendations to the General Court for 2014 legislation that would establish one or more entities sufficient to regulate existing or expanded gaming so that, in the event that the legislature acts to move forward with a destination casino, the state will be prepared to regulate these activities in an effective and efficient manner.
The authority held a public hearing Thursday, Sept. 12. at the Legislative Office Building in Concord.
The issue at hand, as outlined in Thursday’s opening statement by the authority’s chair, state Rep. Richard Ames of Jaffrey, is whether to use the Lottery Commission as the primary vehicle for oversight or create a separate Gaming Commission whose sole purpose is casino gambling, or some hybrid commission.
Right now in the Granite State, the Lottery Commission oversees the lottery while the Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission is in charge of charitable gambling and racing.
“You should utilize the assets you already have and build upon them,” said Ed Callahan, president and general manager of Rockingham Park in Salem, cited as a likely site for a casino in the Granite State.
Two representatives from Gaming Laboratories International of New Jersey, which offers the testing, inspection, certification and consulting for making sure casinos are on the up and up, talked about the importance of technology in gaming regulation.
“We get a chance to see what works,” said Patrick Moore from GLI. “We’re here to share that with you.”According to Moore, technology can be used to make sure cards are dealt properly and to ensure the correct amount of money is changing hands between dealer and players. As well, he said, technology can be used for protection and control of players who are spending too much.
Clyde Barrow, a professor at the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth and director of its Center for Policy Analysis, suggested to the authority that is separate licensing from enforcement.
“The ‘best practice’ in regulation and oversight separate enforcement from licensing and regulation,” said Barrow, who has been studying the impact of gaming in New England sionce 1995 and who founded the Northeastern Gaming Research Project.
In most casino operations, he said, state police maintain a gaming enforcement unit, which separates background checks from licensing and regulation, particularly since a lottery commission is sometimes responsible for marketing and promoting the gaming facility.
There were also comments from interests representing the existing charitable gaming that exists in the state. They were looking for assurances that with new regulations for future casino gaming that the state wouldn’t undermine charitable gaming. “Don’t pull the rug” on charities, as one person testified.
Here are four video clips from the public hearing:
- Richard Ames on mission of Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority 09-12-13
- Gaming authority advised it doesn't need 'behemoth bureaucracy' 09-12-13
- Gaming Laboratories at casino authority hearing 09-12-13
- Rock exec tells gaming authority 'use assets you have' 09-12-13
Paul Briand is an editor with the Live Free or Die Alliance, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that encourages the discussion and analysis of New Hampshire politics and policies.