Kevin Landrigan: Casino bill godfather believes time has come for NH
CONCORD - The political godfather of casino gambling legislation insists the legislation's time has come.
"This is the 16th time I have been speaking on behalf of this. My hair is grayer, the times have changed but the need is still there,'' said State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, during today's hearing on a two-casino bill.
The measure would allow up to 5,000 slot machines and more than 100 table games at the two casinos. Developers of the larger one would pay an $80 million license fee; the smaller casino owners would pay $40 million for a license.
But Steve Duprey, a leading executive in the Casino Free New Hampshire movement, said casino gambling is an addictive revenue source for states that over time offer more and more sweeteners to keep casino owners in business.
And Duprey insisted that bringing a casino would mean changing New Hampshire's family-friendly brand.
"The entire state of New Hampshire spends only $3 million to promote tourism,'' Duprey began. "We have heard developers say they would spend $30-to-$40 million in advertising every year. This couldn't help but dilute and ultimately destroy New Hampshire's brand.''
Gov. Maggie Hassan supports one, "high-end'' casino for the state but did not include it in her state budget proposal because the House of Representatives has historically rejected them.
"I still support it but I'm a realist and it's clear this hasn't met with enough support in the past,'' Hassan told House and Senate budget writers.
Instead, Hassan's budget is counting on legalizing Keno, a bingo-like numbers game allowed at all bars and restaurants. Hudson Republican Rep. Lynne Ober is authoring that legislation that also faced a public hearing today.
D'Allesandro has upped the ante, offering $25 million in profit from two casinos for cities and towns that lost state revenue sharing in 2009 and haven't gotten it back.