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February 3, 2013

Morse reveals expanded gaming plan

SALEM — Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, has a plan for a casino at Rockingham Park that would split state revenues from expanded gaming among highways, colleges and North Country economic development.

Morse, in an interview Friday, sketched out his bill the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which oversees revenues and tax policy, is expected to hear on Feb. 19 in Concord.

The bill would award a single gaming license that would put $80 million total into the state budget over the 2014-2015 period, he said.

Morse envisions revenues from casino gaming delivering more than $100 million into state coffers annually in future years.

He is co-sponsoring the bipartisan measure with Sens. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, and Jim Rausch, R-Derry.

“Basically, there will be three buckets: one for the highway system, one for the college system and one for North Country development,” Morse said. “Those are the buckets we are interested in putting money through.”

Morse will outline the proposal before the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast Friday at the Atkinson Resort and Country Club. The forum is set for 7:45 a.m.

Morse expects the Senate to pass the bill next month.

“We’re going to push that one,” he said of his bill.

The House promises to be more complicated.

In addition to the Senate proposal that would cross over to the House, Morse said, there are several House-sponsored gaming expansion bills up for consideration.

Gov. Maggie Hassan also will have a say.

While campaigning for office, Hassan said she would support a single casino and said it would make sense to site it near the Massachusetts border because of the Bay State’s own gaming expansion moves.

The Morse bill would concede to Hassan on that point. Previously, Morse had said senators pushing expanded gaming were willing to debate with her on how many casinos New Hampshire would allow.

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