NH1 News Debates


Apr 29, 2015 12:00 AM

Landrigan: Casino legislation again meets its political death in the NH House.


CONCORD - The strong backing of Gov. Maggie Hassan and impending moves in Massachusetts did little to change the opposition of the N.H. House to casino legislation today.

The House soundly rejected a two-casino bill that the state Senate had embraced earlier this spring. The 208-156 vote against passing this bill even surprised opponents by how big it was.

"It was more significant than we thought,’’ said state Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett, and a leader in the anti-casino movement. "I think we got an earlier sign that this bill was in trouble when the state Senate could only pass it by a single vote.’’

Critics maintained that these two casinos would be "convience or a commuter’’ venue and not attract out-of-state visitors.

Rep. Gary Azarian, R-Salem, disagreed, noting the $650 million proposal to redevelop the Rockingham Park race track in his town would be the second largest project in New Hampshire history.

"This would be a sustainable revenue source,’’ Azarian said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gov. Hassan had met privately with House Democrats and urged them to support the legislation as it would deliver much needed profits for the two-year state budget.

But foes pointed out that beyond an $80 million license fee for the first casino, the state would not receive any annual money until starting in mid-2018.

"In short, do the ends justify the means, and for the past 40 years, the answer from this House has been no,’’ said Rep. Virginia Lovejoy, D-Exeter.

The House outcome doesn’t necessarily end the discussion for 2015.

Senate leaders could try to revive a casino as part of its two-year state budget.

Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, is one of the state’s biggest casino backers but has said in the past it should stand on its own merits and not become a pawn in the budget battle.

Whatever the Senate does, however, this strong House vote clearly spells the death knell for the issue in 2015.


--  Dealing with the Disease of Addiction? Click here for help --

More from NH1.com

NH1 News Debates
NH1 News Replay

NH1 on Twitter

NH1 SkyView Cameras

NH1 on Facebook

Check out NH1 News Rail Polls on LockerDome on LockerDome