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Opposing views on casino gambling in Nashua aired

Union Leader Correspondent

March 03. 2014 10:04PM

NASHUA — Opposing opinions on whether casino gaming should be permitted in New Hampshire drew heartfelt comments from city officials and Nashua state representatives on Monday.

During a joint meeting between the Nashua delegation and the Board of Aldermen, the topic of casinos drew criticism and praise from various officials on different sides of the table."We are being lobbied heavily by gambling companies," state Rep. Jan Schmidt, D-Nashua, told aldermen, sharing her strong opposition to allowing a casino in the state.

In speaking with constituents, Schmidt maintained that many local residents believe a future casino in Salem would be detrimental to Nashua as customers would bypass the city altogether. It would be worse if a casino was constructed in Hudson, she contended.

"Most people are telling me not to vote for it," added Schmidt.

Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9, said casinos are designed to keep business inside of their personal walls.

"There is very little benefit," said Siegel, who owns a business in Salem and does not favor a casino being built there.There is a misconception that casinos will leak money into the community, but historically that has not been the case, Siegel said. "Let us not kid ourselves," he said, adding that casinos are in it for themselves and will not provide an economic advantage to the state.

Others disagreed, saying casinos are an ideal way to increase revenue for much needed initiatives across individual communities and throughout the Granite State.

Sen. Bette Lasky says she hopes casino gaming will be permitted here.

"Clearly, we have a revenue problem," she said, adding local control will still be available in determining where casinos should be built.

Addressing concerns about gaming addiction, Lasky said there are pros and cons to casino gaming.

"We don't have real high moral ground when the family business is liquor," Lasky said, maintaining proposed bills would add some money to help gambling addicts.

Rep. Pam Brown, who also serves as a city alderman, says she supports a casino in New Hampshire.

"My biggest concern is bringing jobs to the state," she said, contending every single labor union in the state supports gaming.

Aside from casinos, other topics discussed on Monday by the joint boards included pension costs, Common Core standards, education funding, rail and more.

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