Casino vote stirs emotions on both sides
The Retail Merchants Association and the Business and Industry Association both remained neutral throughout the debate, and declined to react to the outcome.
"We have been neutral on gambling for many years, basically because we have a divided membership," said Adrienne Rupp, vice president of communications for the Business and Industry Association.
"We encouraged our members to call their representatives in the weeks leading up to the vote," said NHLRA President and CEO Mike Somers. "We contacted all legislators in the House in an e-mail blast about a week ago, and followed that up with a letter. We invested a lot of time in this effort and I believe the members of the board are quite happy with the result."
The vote came as a big disappointment to the construction and building trades, which had lobbied hard for passage. Joe Casey, president of the New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council, found fault with both political parties.
"Had one manufacturing plant laid of 10,000 workers, you'd certainly hear about it," he said, "but when the construction industry statewide loses 10,000 construction jobs, and there is no single voice, no one pays attention. And now, because the industry is saturated with out-of-work employees, wages and benefits for those who remain go down."
"I'm very relieved," said Nicolette B. Clarke, executive director of the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord. Clarke testified twice against the bill — once before the joint House and Senate committee and once before a House subcommittee focused on community impact.
"I would have to say our board is pleased that gambling was turned down," said Chamber President Doug Bates. "The 35 votes was not a huge margin, but I thank those who voted against it."
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