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NH gov considers legalizing online gambling

April 3, 2010

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CONCORD, N.H.—Though he opposes allowing slot machines and casino-style gambling, Gov. John Lynch might support the legalization of online gambling to close a growing budget deficit.

Lynch plans to unveil his plan for gambling in New Hampshire next week, and legalizing online gaming is among the ideas he's considering, spokesman Colin Manning told The Telegraph of Nashua. Manning did not provide details, and it's unclear how making online gambling legal would raise money. One option would be requiring any site doing business in the state to pay a tax.

The House is now debating a Senate-passed bill that allows up to 17,000 slot machines and casino-style games at six locations in the state. But Lynch opposes it because he said it fails to prevent the proliferation of gambling.

Supporters of the bill argue that online gaming would do exactly what Lynch is worried about.

"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," said former state Sen. Bob Clegg, a lobbyist for a golf club that wants to bring a casino and resort to Hudson.

Clegg also argued that online gambling doesn't create many jobs. A lawyer for the Hudson project estimates it would create 3,800 jobs, including trick-down positions at restaurants and other nearby businesses.

Though federal law prohibits Internet gambling, it is rarely enforced. Only four states have made Internet gaming illegal; New Hampshire has no law expressly prohibiting it.

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Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.nashuatelegraph.com

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