NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 20, 2013

coming up short in casino debate

Lawmakers seemingly favor Rockingham Park over Seabrook dog track

(Continued)

Even though Hassan is a Democrat and her party controls the House, the branch has historically rejected casino bills. The state Senate has approved casino gambling bills in the past only to watch them fail in the 400-member House, often referred to as the place gambling bills go to die.

The current bill is expected to face opposition in the House not only from lawmakers who oppose gaming, but also from those who want more than one casino and from others who want the state to raise needed revenue with an income or sales taxes. Hassan has vowed to veto such taxes.

Perkins said while he has heard from some of his Democratic colleagues that the bill has an uphill battle, he feels when push comes to shove, it just might have a chance of passage.

“The governor is in the Democrats’ caucus,” Perkins said. “If she walks in and says, ‘We have to have this bill if you want the money for health and human services, police and fire protection and highway maintenance,’ you have to think she’s going to carry some weight.”

Seabrook’s state representatives have historically favored casino gaming, especially if it incorporates Seabrook Greyhound Park, and this year is no different. Perkins as well as his wife, Rep. Amy Perkins, and state Rep. and Selectman Aboul Khan have supported legalizing gambling.

Khan said the bill got a boost when the New Hampshire Troopers Association and the New Hampshire Police Association came out in favor of it, a departure from its position in the past based on fear that gambling would bring with it an influx of crime. At a news conference last week, the two organizations said that a casino would not bring any more crime to the state than a large shopping mall. But without it, they added, vital state safety programs will suffer for lack of revenue.

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