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Casino opponents gearing up for a renewed fight at N.H. Legislature

Casino opponents and supporters are gearing up for a renewed fight next year over expanded gambling in New Hampshire.

The Senate in March voted 16-8 to pass a bill allowing a single casino in the state. It was backed by Gov. Maggie Hassan, but the House in May killed the bill on a 199-164 vote.

The issue is likely to return in 2014, as the Legislature continues to search for a funding mechanism for transportation infrastructure and considers a report due this month from the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority, a state commission working to craft a regulatory framework for a potential future casino.

So two anti-casino groups, Casino Free New Hampshire and the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling, held a news conference in Concord this morning to kick off their renewed effort to oppose casino legislation.

The groups’ new frontmen: former state senator Harold Janeway, a Webster Democrat, and Concord developer Steve Duprey, a Republican and former state party chairman.

(The Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling had been chaired by Jim Rubens, a Republican former state senator who now is running for the U.S. Senate.)

“There’s no doubt in our minds that this is the most important decision for the Legislature in this upcoming session,” Janeway said. “There’s no walking this one back. No state has ever reversed course and said, ‘Oh, boy, we’ve made a mistake. I wish we hadn’t.’ They get deeper and they get deeper, and the tougher it gets, the deeper they get.”

Duprey said they respect the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority’s efforts, “but no matter how well regulated, the work of the commission doesn’t make a bad idea any less bad. And our point is, casino gambling is bad for New Hampshire on many, many fronts.”

A bipartisan group of seven pro-casino state representatives responded with a joint statement blasting the news conference as premature.

“It is unfortunate, although not surprising, that opponents of casino gambling didn’t even wait for the final report of the New Hampshire Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority to be released with final recommendations before attempting to choose the outcome of this important debate with the same old rhetoric,” began the statement from Reps. Bob Elliott of Salem, Dick Hinch of Merrimack, Peter Leishman of Peterborough, Pat Long of Manchester, Laura Pantelakos of Portsmouth, Katherine Rogers of Concord, Deanna Rollo of Rollinsford and Ken Weyler of Kingston.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Legacy Comments3

Strange bedfellows. Duprey only cares about what is good for Duprey. Evidently, he hasn't found a property to develop into a casino. Janeway hates to see any revenue come to the state that isn't some kind of broad-based tax.

It's obvious the House members who voted against the bill simply voted for their personal preference, not giving consideration of the people they represent. So in NH, booze sales is good..... No great, it's even sold roadside! First in the nation state-run lottery is obviously a "good" thing. Scratch tickets are a "good" thing. Megabucks, Powerball, etc. is very good. Casinos, as are run in 40 states= "Bad".

democrats only care about MORE MONEY to expamd Big Govt. so you know how they will vote. The litmus test for this decision should only be : is this recreation good for the citizens of NH. completely eliminate any thought of govt getting MORE MONEY and it is an easy vote.

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