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Boston and Beyond

November 30, 2013

NH gambling panel reviewing draft regulations

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A panel drafting legislation to regulate casinos in New Hampshire is hoping to make its final decisions Friday so it can file its recommendations by a Dec. 15 deadline.

At its last meeting, the New Hampshire Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority took a straw vote to include a maximum of 5,000 slot machines, the tax rate and number of locations in the regulations. That reverses a decision made last summer, but Attorney General Joseph Foster says he can’t support the legislation if it includes those details.

The panel was created after the House killed a casino bill that passed the Senate with strong backing from Gov. Maggie Hassan. The bill rejected in May would have allowed the construction of one casino with 5,000 slot machines and 150 table games.

Casino supporters are concerned New Hampshire will lose revenue to Massachusetts, which is in the process of licensing three casinos and one video slots parlor.

The panel chose to include fiscal details like the number of slots allowed in the legislation rather than in a separate report. Foster said his role is to ensure strong regulations are in place, not decide what an optimal casino should be. But the panel’s chairman, state Rep. Richard Ames, said he would bring an amendment to the committee handling the bill next year to add the details if the authority left them out.

The panel also is preparing separate legislation to strengthen the law governing charitable games. One proposed change would end the practice of commercial operators of games of chance charging the charities rent and fees that cut into their 35 percent share of the take.

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