HB101 calls for enormous gambling growth at tracks » Albuquerque Journal

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The New Mexico racetracks have submitted a bill, HB 101, that would allow massive gambling expansion to take place at the five licensed racetracks, although the expansion would be under the direction and control of the state lottery commission, and 15 million of the projected 40 million in increased taxes would be allocated to the state lottery coffers for college scholarships. The bill is very vague about the monetary benefit to the tracks.

HB 101 insists that the massive gambling expansion would not interfere with the state/tribal gambling compacts. The bill can say that is the case, but the state/tribal gambling compacts gave the tribes absolute exclusivity over table games, such as baccarat, blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, wheel of fortune, etc. This bill would allow the track/lottery complex to operate those games at the tracks, thereby eliminating that exclusivity.

If the state allows this breach of the compacts the tribes would be perfectly within their rights to cease paying the state almost $80 million per year in revenue sharing. The tracks boast of infusing the state general fund with $40 million of additional taxes per year, minus the $15 million to the scholarship fund with their expansion. This would leave the state general fund about $55 million short with the elimination of tribal revenue sharing.

The tribes might also object to the 10% tax on online gambling and the 15% tax on table games, whereas the tribes can pay as much as 18% revenue sharing per year to the state. And can you imagine what a battle on the tribal compacts would do to an already complicated and congested legislative session.

Besides allowing gamblers to bet on the outcome of games, this bill would allow betting on the statistical performance of individual players at a given time in a game. For example, a bet could be placed on whether LeBron James would make a 3-pointer in the next 30 seconds, or whether Tom Brady would run for the goal posts in the next 15 seconds, or whether Dale Hunter would break an opponent’s nose in the next minute. All of this generates a gambling frenzy that greatly contributes to gambling addiction.

All this is secondary to the social trauma that would be caused by a massive gambling expansion. The main damage would be done by legalizing online gambling in the form of sports betting. Online gambling at home or on the move via mobile devices, tablets, laptop and desktop computers has been shown to be the most addictive form of gambling by several university and governmental studies.

Especially toxic is the effort by major gambling corporations to target teens and pre-teens with their online sports betting ads and promotions. Britain is ahead of the U.S. in promoting online sports betting, and the effect on the young is horrific. A few comments from the British news media report the following:

• 450,000 UK children aged 11 to 16 bet regularly, more than those who have taken drugs, smoked or drunk alcohol, according to the UK’s Gambling Commission study.

• Promotions and special offers for several major online gambling firms are regularly appearing in the social media feeds of children and directing them to the companies’ websites via the social networks.

• Almost half these teenagers — 49% — said some of these companies’ commercials made gambling look like a good way to make money.

This gambling expansion would result in more broken homes, more homelessness, more child and spouse abuse, more teen gambling, more bankruptcy, more drug and alcohol addiction, more criminal activity and more suicide. Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico recommends that HB 101 gets tabled in the first committee it visits.

It’s time for the New Mexico government to get out of the predatory gambling racket.