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Capital Beat

Special committee votes, 23-22, to recommend N.H. House kill Senate’s casino bill

After weeks of detailed review, a special committee this afternoon narrowly recommended the full House kill the Senate’s bill that would allow a single casino in New Hampshire.

The joint committee, comprising members of the House Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, voted 23-22 to brand Senate Bill 152 as “inexpedient to legislate.”

The legislation next heads to the House floor for a vote.

“SB 152 is not a good bet for New Hampshire,” said Rep. Patricia Lovejoy, a Stratham Democrat.

Seventeen proposed amendments were presented to the committee this morning. But shortly after 1 p.m., Lovejoy made a motion to recommend killing the bill, before any amendments could be brought to a vote — a move Rep. Peter Leishman, a Peterborough Democrat and casino supporter, called “patently unfair.”

The bill passed the GOP-led Senate on a 16-8 vote in March, and it has the support of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who’s said the $80 million license fee for the casino is needed to help balance the next two-year state budget.

But the House, which has a Democratic majority, has long been hostile to proposals for expanded gambling. Concerns about proliferation, social costs including gambling addiction, harm to charitable gaming and profits going to an out-of-state casino operator were among the worries raised during this afternoon’s debate, which lasted an hour and 15 minutes.

For full coverage of today’s debate and vote, see tomorrow’s Monitor.

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

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