Casino committee looks to find acceptable language, more votes
The committee — by a razor-thin 23-22 margin — voted to kill the bill on Wednesday after spending nearly a month vetting it.
The new proposed amendment strengthens the regulatory framework, gives the attorney general greater clout in the selection process, limits campaign contributions and forbids candidates from seeking them from casino owners and officials, and requires the state to reject any applicant who owners fail background checks.
The group continued to work on the amendment on Thursday.
None of the changes the group proposes are expected to be deal breakers with the Senate, which approved the bill on a 16-8 vote.
If the motion to kill the amendment is defeated, other amendments are likely to be introduced as well, including alternative expanded gambling proposals.
Long-time gambling opponent, Rep. David Hess, R-Hooksett, said he doesn’t believe the debate will go beyond the committee’s recommendation to kill the bill.
“I do not see any significant movement from their previous positions,” Hess said. “The wild card is the freshmen Democrats.”
Casino supporters believe this is the best shot they have had with the backing of Gov. Maggie Hassan, who supports the bill and included $80 million from casino licensing fess in her proposed operating budget.
The other significant factor casino supporters point to is that Massachusetts is about to open three destination casinos and a slot machine parlor.
Forty-five representatives spent more than three weeks studying the bill and at the end decided they could not overcome the limits and structural problems of the proposed legislation, he said.
“What has not gotten nearly enough attention is what kind of financial deal is it for New Hampshire,” he said.
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