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

(Continued)

The amendment strengthens regulation, giving the attorney general and lottery commission more power to regulate a casino, he said.

It also assures the host community, be it Salem or somewhere else, gets 3 percent of revenues and protects charity gaming from a casino’s impact, he said.

Azarian said House leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, have stayed out of the fight, encouraging lawmakers to get the facts and vote their consciences.

“This is truly a bipartisan bill that everybody is working on,” he said. “I think we can prevail.”

The conservative House Republican Alliance is urging members to reject the casino bill, which is in opposition to the Republican Party’s platform against expanded gaming.

Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, co-chairman, said the alliance took the position in a meeting attended by about 30 members yesterday.

Baldasaro isn’t among Republicans who reject expanded gambling. He is willing to allow casinos, but doesn’t want the state awarding a monopoly to one company.

“I am probably going to vote ‘inexpedient to legislate,’’’ Baldasaro said. “If they have enough votes, I’ll listen to the amendments. But unless there’s an amendment out there that says there can be more than one casino, I won’t vote for it.”

The Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce is asking House lawmakers to pass the bill.

“As an organization representing over 400 businesses, we feel it is incomprehensible to think that entertainment dollars and subsequent tax revenues may be deported from New Hampshire and delivered to almost any other New England state,” the Chamber told lawmakers.

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