NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 16, 2013

NH Senate passes casino bill, House chances slim

(Continued)

Opponents object to Hassan including money in her budget from licensing fees before lawmakers agreed to legalize a casino and argue that expanded gaming is not an appropriate revenue source for New Hampshire.

Former Gov. John Lynch squelched gambling supporters’ efforts during his eight years in office by questioning how it would affect quality of life. He threatened to veto a bill last year that would have legalized four casinos; that bill died in the House.

Critics have also argued that the quick licensing process will favor Rockingham Park. Millennium Gaming Inc. of Las Vegas already has an option to buy the Salem racetrack and proposed spending $450 million building a facility there. Salem residents have overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding referendum endorsing the plan.

Green Meadow Golf Club in Hudson and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon have also pushed for casino legalization.

Hassan has made it clear to gambling supporters that all she will back is one high-end, highly regulated casino.

The Senate proposal would tax the video slot proceeds at 30 percent and table games at 14 percent. It would require a $425 million investment.

Five percent of the video lottery revenue would go to the host community, neighboring communities and services for problem gambling. The rest would be used to fund highway improvements, higher education and North Country development. The table game revenue would go to higher education.

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