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May 23, 2013

N.H. House rejects casino bill

Expanded gaming bill goes down by large margin, 199-164

CONCORD — The House voted yesterday to kill a New Hampshire casino proposal, 199-164.

By a wider margin, the House then ruled out possible reconsideration, 212-152.

It’s unclear whether the issue is completely dead because one co-sponsor, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, refused to rule out bringing it back through the Senate, which had passed the casino bill, 16-8.

“I’ll consider anything that addresses the needs of the people of the state,” D’Allesandro said after the House vote yesterday.

However, other Senate and House lawmakers doubted that would happen.

Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, the Senate Finance chairman, as well as a co-sponsor of the casino proposal, said he would not let it come back through the budget process.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, who had opposed the casino bill, didn’t see it happening.

“Sen. Morse has made it clear he will not try to put it in the budget,” Bradley said. “He respects the process. Chuck is a man of his word.”

Reps. Gary Azarian, R-Salem, and Frank Sapareto, R-Derry, who had worked to pass the bill in the House, remained optimistic about passage in the future, but not a revival this year.

“The House position is clear,” Sapareto said. “You would have a shot if the speaker or either party leader supported this, but since they don’t, I don’t think there is a 1 percent chance.”

Azarian thought momentum for passage was building toward a 30-vote win, but the outcome went the other way.

“I think the Legislature did a disservice to the people of the state,” he said.

The House took up a joint committee’s recommendation on Senate Bill 152, which would have licensed one casino by bid with local approval.

Support was strong in Salem

Las Vegas-based Millennium Gaming Inc., which has an option to buy Rockingham Park, intended to pursue the license and has plans for a $600 million-plus redevelopment it estimates could create 3,000 construction and gaming jobs.

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