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March 16, 2014

Rockingham Park future in doubt with N.H. House casino vote

House defeats two bills, Senate remains

(Continued)

Massachusetts is moving closer to casino gambling day by day, Killion said.

“That shines a bright light on the impact to New Hampshire from standing pat and doing nothing,” he said.

The House vote Thursday would be welcomed in Massachusetts, Killion said.

“Massachusetts won (Thursday),” he said.

D’Allesandro admits the House vote came as a disappointment.

“Almost is not good enough,” he said.

The senator said he doesn’t understand how the same House can cast votes supporting charity gaming and keno, then turn around and say no to a casino.

“When you need jobs, when you need significant investment, it doesn’t happen,” D’Allesandro said.

He is not optimistic at this point, but says everyone will see what happens. The Senate path is through a Finance Committee with some opposition, but the president of the Senate is Chuck Morse, a casino backer from Salem.

“To be realistic, given the disposition of the House, where about 80 people are not showing up on a session-to-session basis, this thing doesn’t have much of a shot,” D’Allesandro said.

Killion attributes a lot of absences this week to the weather and said no one knows how those votes would play out if the House gets another chance.

Elliott liked some of what he saw Thursday.

Casino advocates picked up the vote of Rep. John Sytek, R-Salem, who last year opposed casino gaming because of concerns about insufficient regulation.

This House bill included more and tighter oversight, something Elliott said helped bring Sytek aboard.

“That is a huge swing vote,” Elliott said. “I went over and shook his hand.”

Rep. Marilinda Garcia, who last year opposed casino gambling, didn’t vote Thursday. She did, however, vote on three other bills Thursday, including one supporting the District of Columbia to be fully represented in Congress. She voted against that measure.

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