New Hampshire Gambling Fight Turns Ugly

Edward Callahan, vice-president and general manager of Rockingham Park, is demanding a formal public apology from New Hampshire Republican gubernatorial candidate Gordon Humphrey over remarks made during a public hearing of the Ways and Means Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. The committee conducted a public hearing Jan. 15 on four bills to expand gambling.

The Associated Press reported during the hearing Humphrey said, "The gambling business is a scummy, sleazy enterprise that has no place in this state."

According to the Associated Press, Humphrey said gambling advocates are trying to get lawmakers to act now, while Gov. Jeanne Shaheen is in office. Shaheen has said she would consider gambling as a state revenue source under some conditions.

One of the bills being considered would legalize off-track betting; another would establish a state-owned casino; the third would create a committee to study a possible state-owned casino, and the fourth would legalize video lottery terminals at the state's four racetracks.

The video gambling bill also would pump money into a Thoroughbred breeding program to help preserve open spaces and employ people in poor areas of the state. It would also reduce the business profits and state property taxes.

Callahan said Humphrey's comments insulted over 6,000 people involved in the racing industry in New Hampshire. Humphrey also denigrated the hundreds of charities throughout the state and their volunteers who conduct bingo, plus the hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire citizens who play the Granite State Lottery, bingo games, or patronize the state's four racetracks.

"All of us who are the gambling industry in New Hampshire are outraged and insulted that Humphrey called us scummy and sleazy," said Callahan. "The gambling industry in New Hampshire, the same industry that Humphrey termed 'scummy and sleazy', generates over $70-million per year to the State of New Hampshire for the general fund and education."