EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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May 22, 2013

Casino bill comes to a vote today

Few willing to predict outcome of House casino vote


“Everyone says it’s a close vote,” Klemm said. “I just hope the legislators stop and think about who they represent.”

Salem voters at Town Meeting passed a non-binding referendum, supporting a casino by a 4-1 margin. That has caused Elliott and others to become upset with the four dissenting Salem lawmakers.

“If we lose the gaming bill on Wednesday by four votes, the future of Salem will never be the same, and neither will the future of the Famous Four,” Elliott posted on his Facebook page yesterday.

“This is an extremely important vote for our whole state, but especially the southern tier,” Klemm said.

The state stands to lose over $100 million annually if casinos open across the border in Massachusetts and New Hampshire doesn’t have one, Klemm said.

Klemm, who served in both the House and Senate as a legislator, is among those who believe the House will defeat the committee’s recommendation to debate amendments.

“I think the legislators want to talk about the issue,” Klemm said.

Azarian said if the House passes some form of the casino bill today, the Senate will concur with its actions and send the bill to the governor.

“I don’t think it should go to a committee of conference (for reconciliation),” he said. “I’d concur with the bill.”

Elliott was pleased when Rep. Mary Till, D-Derry, who previously was undecided, said she wants the House to consider amendments. Till said she could vote for a casino should amendments provide better regulation and assurances jobs will go to New Hampshire residents.

“That’s the fair way to go, I really agree with her,” Elliott said of considering amendments.

Azarian is co-sponsor of what he’s calling the “omnibus amendment,” which would address key concerns raised by the joint House committee.

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