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NH Churches Warn of Consequences from Expanded Gambling

February 21, 2008

Concord, NH - New Hampshire's faith community is speaking out against legislation that would expand gambling in the state, but not for the reasons people might assume. Chancellor Diane Murphy Quinlan, of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester, says the churches are more concerned with the consequences of gambling than with the games themselves.

"We're very concerned that expanded gambling, including slot machines, will cause some of the most vulnerable in our population, especially the poor, to become even poorer."

Members of the diocese testified in a State Senate hearing this week that easy access is a problem; slot machines and other gaming devices take more money from low-income local residents than they do from high-rolling, out-of-state visitors. Quinlan says their concern includes the risk of gambling addiction, and damage to families and children, and that churches have a different perspective than slot machine supporters.

"The proponents of the legislation really seem to be focused on the amount of money that will come into the state of New Hampshire; but our focus, really, has been on the social cost."

Proponents of increasing the gambling opportunities in the state have argued that it's the only way to revitalize Salem's Rockingham Park, and that New Hampshire needs the additional tax revenue. Even if expanded gambling passes in the State Legislature, however, Governor Lynch says he is unlikely to sign it into law.

John Robinson/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NH