Concord Casino remains open after lottery hearing abruptly canceled

Dealer Jennifer Chalk gets ready to drop the ball at the roulette table at the casino in the basement of the Draft on Main Street in Concord earlier this month.

Dealer Jennifer Chalk gets ready to drop the ball at the roulette table at the casino in the basement of the Draft on Main Street in Concord earlier this month.

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 10-13-2023 5:22 PM

Six weeks after the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and Attorney General determined Andy Sanborn was unfit to be associated with charitable gaming in the state, the roulette wheel keeps spinning at the Concord Casino on Main Street.

For the second time, the hearing over Andy Sanborn’s casino license eligibility was postponed.

This time Sanborn was granted a temporary restraining order against the Lottery Commission and its chairman, Debra Douglas, by Judge Martin Honigberg, effectively preventing the scheduled hearing from taking place on Friday, Oct. 13.

Honigberg said during the court hearing that he is imposing the restraining order for two reasons – inadequate preparation time for the hearing and the Lottery Commission’s inconsistent information provided to Win Win Win LLC.

The full legal arguments surrounding the delay are unclear because of limited access to written filings, which were not available from Merrimack County Superior Court.

However, court audio recordings shed some light on the concerns expressed by Sanborn’s legal representatives, who argued they weren’t given enough time to adequately prepare for the hearing.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Contoocook's Covered Bridge Restaurant set for revival
Dunkin sign crashing down in Concord didn’t stop the coffee from flowing
A bridge, a park, or both? Residents brainstorm visions for an elevated connection between downtown and the river
Planning the end: Barbara Filion looks to Vermont for medical aid in dying
Boys’ basketball: Joe Fitzgerald’s 26 points lift Pembroke over Merrimack Valley in D-II quarterfinal
Missing children located safe in Keene, father is charged with killing mother

Adding to the complexity during the proceedings was the apparent discrepancy in understanding between the two parties involved.

While the Lottery Commission clarified that it was a show-cause hearing related to suitability determination, Sanborn’s legal team appeared to interpret it as a potential license revocation hearing.

The Lottery Commission’s attorney said should Sanborn be deemed unsuitable, he would no longer be eligible to hold a gaming license, and a revocation process would be set in motion. Regardless of the hearing’s outcome, Sanborn retains the option to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

The Attorney General’s office opposed Sanborn’s request to delay the hearing.

“The Office did appear at the court hearing and objected to the licensee’s request to delay the licensing hearing. We will review the judge’s order and will continue to work to move this forward,” the Attorney General’s office said in an email statement. “The temporary injunction from the Merrimack Superior Court did not in any way dispute the findings or the merits of the investigation into the Concord Casino, but rather was specific to the timing for the hearing.”

Sanborn has not returned requests for comment on the matter.

Thursday’s court hearing took place with little public notice, leaving many in the dark until the Lottery Commission updated its website late Thursday night to inform the public about the postponement.

Honigberg also determined that Sanborn was not required to post an injunction bond, citing “good cause.” This bond typically serves as a financial guarantee to address potential costs or damages that the opposing party, in this case, the Lottery Commission, might incur if the court’s order is perceived as unfair.

Sanborn, who owns and operates the Concord Casino on 67 South Main St. fraudulently obtained $844,000 of federal COVID relief funds and used the money to support his lavish lifestyle, including buying sports cars for himself and his wife, State Rep. Laurie Sanborn, according to the findings of an eight-month investigation by the Attorney General and the Lottery Commission. The relief funds were intended for struggling small businesses and casinos were exempt from receiving the money. Sanborn got around that by concealing the registered trade name “Concord Casino” on his application, using the name “Win Win Win LLC” instead and listing the business activity as “miscellaneous.”

Sanborn requested the hearing to challenge the state’s determination that he is unsuitable to be associated with charitable gaming.

The first hearing had initially been scheduled for Oct. 3 but was postponed because the legal representatives needed more time to prepare, according to a spokesperson from the Lottery Commission.

The court has set a deadline of 10 days for the parties involved to arrange a hearing or make a determination about extending the order.

Records show the Concord Casino takes in about $1 million a year in revenue. Of that amount, 35% is supposed to be given to licensed charities and non-profits. But Sanborn, a former state Senator, keeps half of those payouts in the form of rent he charges the charities.

The Concord Casino remains open until 1 a.m., seven days a week.