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December 06. 2013 12:22PM

Gaming authority endorses gaming commission, casino with up to 5,000 slots, 150 tables

CONCORD - The Gambling Regulatory Oversight Authority Friday endorsed legislation allowing one casino under a clearly defined regulatory scheme.

Attorney General Joseph Foster was the lone "No" vote on the nine-member commission, saying the authority's work greatly improved the regulatory structure over last session's casino bill, but the proposed bill amounted to endorsing casino gambling, something he could not do.

Under the bill, a new gaming commission would regulate all forms of gaming in the state including the lottery, charitable gambling, and horse and dog racing.

The proposal would be for one resort casino with up to 5,000 video slot machines and 150 table games.

A similar proposal without the elaborate regulatory structure was passed by the Senate last session, but killed by the House.

One of the concerns raised by House members was the lack of a regulatory scheme before a casino is approved.

The authority was created and worked through the fall to develop the regulations, structure and requirements for a casino gambling and also developed another bill to tighten state control over charitable gambling, which raises about $13 million a year for charities and non-profits.

House Majority Leader Stephen Shurtleff, D-Concord, said after the vote he believes a bill with a more robust regulatory structure would have a better chance of passing. He said he is keeping an open mind on the issue.

Last year the Senate passed Senate Bill 152 on a 16-8 vote, but the House defeated on a 199-164 vote despite strong backing from Gov. Maggie Hassan.

The prime sponsor of SB 152, Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, has said he will introduce a similar bill in the 2014 session.

Casino supporters have renewed their push for expanded gambling in New Hampshire in light of Massachusetts' approval of three casinos and one video slot machine facility.

grayno@unionleader.com




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