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New Hampshire

May 16, 2013

House panel rejects casino bill by one vote

Full House likely to vote on expanded gaming bill next week

(Continued)

Azarian, Griffin and Allen said they were disappointed the bill was voted down without taking action on the amendments. During the hearing, Azarian said a casino would generate much-needed revenue and hundreds of jobs.

“I believe the bill was ready to be passed,” he said.

Some lawmakers, including Azarian, said passage of one major amendment would have eliminated some of the problems with the bill.

Edward Callahan, president and general manager of Rockingham Park, agreed the amendments should have been considered. He wasn’t happy with the panel’s decision, but said he’s looking toward the vote in the full House.

“I’m disappointed in that the leadership didn’t allow the amendments to come in. To not even give them the opportunity was not appropriate, Callahan said. “The 23-22 vote was very close. I think that will create quite a fight on the House floor.”

Millennium spokesman Rich Killion said the close vote was reason for optimism.

“The one-vote difference between support and opposition among the joint committee is light years from where this process started just last month,” said yesterday.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who supports a single casino, remained optimistic.

“As the bill moves to the floor, I believe the full House will give a more complete consideration to this legislation and the proposed bipartisan amendments that were not voted on today,” she said in a written statement. “I am confident the House understands that the people of New Hampshire want to invest in the priorities needed to create jobs, strengthen our communities, and spur innovative economic growth: higher education, mental health, public safety, economic development, and other critical areas.”

Hassan included $80 million from a licensing fee in her budget.

But anti-casino groups also were optimistic.

Casino Free New Hampshire and Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling praised the joint panel and urged the full House to defeat the bill.

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