Steve Duprey, co-chairman of Casino Free New Hampshire, says legalizing casino would cannibalize existing hospitality and entertainment business

Apr 27, 2015 4:57 PM

Landrigan: Both sides brace for close vote on casino in NH House

A showdown vote in the New Hampshire House on a two-casino bill Wednesday - and the big guns on both sides are out today.

Opponent Steve Duprey scoffs at claims the casinos would plow $130 million a year into state coffers.

"It’s not an economic growth machine,’’ said Duprey who co-chairs Casino Free NH. "What it does is it cannibalizes all of New Hampshire to help one gaming company at one piece of property in one community. It’s a bad idea.’’

Nashua Republican Rep. Bill Ohm counters the warning a casino could harm New Hampshire’s family-friendly brand.

"You know we’ve had a business in New Hampshire built on tourism; we like to have out of state money pay our taxes. That’s why we have no sales tax, no income tax,’’ Ohm said.

And former state prosecutor David Hess says even with a nearly $800 million investment, New Hampshire’s bigger casino won’t compete with larger ones planned in Greater Boston.

"It’s not going to be a destination casino; it’s going to be a commuter or convenience casino,’’ Hess remarked.

By all accounts, the 100 new members of the House elected last November will determine if this vote runs counter to a half century of House decisions against expanded gambling.

The only thing both sides agree on: the dramatic House vote less than 48 hours away is too close to call.

"We don’t bet. We don’t gamble,’’ anti-casino advocate Duprey joked. "No, no.’’

"That’s a great question,’’ casino backer Ohm responded. "I wish I knew.’’


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