EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 15, 2013

Senate OKs casino, House outcome uncertain

House fight looms

(Continued)

Hassan said gaming revenue also can support public safety and mental health services.

Las Vegas-based Millennium Gaming Inc., which recently renewed its option to purchase Rockingham Park, intends to apply for a license and has said a casino at a redeveloped track would create 2,000 construction jobs and 1,300 gaming jobs.

“Today’s 2-to-1 margin of support for SB 152 by the Senate is a strong, bipartisan statement for the tens of millions of revenue, the thousands of jobs a casino would create, and the economic development it would generate,” Millennium spokesman Rich Killion said.

The Senate vote is similar to the opinions of New Hampshire residents who have supported a casino in surveys, he said.

“The people know standing by idly and ceding these benefits and opportunities to Massachusetts would be something New Hampshire would long regret,” Killion said.

Next up is the House battleground.

“The fight is and always has been in the House, where we see opposition firming over the past few weeks in both parties for different reasons,” said Jim Rubens, chairman of the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling.

Republicans want a responsible budget built on real revenues, while Democrats want sustainable support for programs, Rubens said.

“We have to take the battle to the House and we have a lot of convincing to do,” Morse said. “We are ready for it.”

Questions loom in the House

One who is on the fence is freshman Rep. Mary Till, D-Derry.

“I have not made up my mind,” Till said yesterday.

She said she shares former Gov. John Lynch’s concern that when a state budget is tied to an entity, that entity gains power over the state.

But, she said, she is listening as proponents say New Hampshire will have to deal with social costs no matter what, because Massachusetts is allowing casinos.

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