EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

April 9, 2014

Salem officials hoping for casino passage by N.H. House

Salem leaders hopeful casino is OK'd

(Continued)

Proponents and critics have agreed the Senate proposal has the best chance yet of becoming law.

That is encouraging some casino supporters in Salem, who have watched votes in the House get closer in recent years.

“We’re as optimistic as we can be,” Morris said.

In her view, the Senate bill has responded to concerns of those in the House who have demanded strict regulation for a casino.

“The time is right,” said Ron Oldeman, who has participated in the Salem-based NH Casino Now campaign.

Oldeman said his message to lawmakers is they are losing out on a great opportunity for revenue for the state, if they fail to approve a casino.

“We’re going to lose money to Massachusetts if we don’t,” Oldeman said.

A casino would be good for the state’s economy and create jobs, he said.

He said it’s personally hard for him to be optimistic about the bill because he has been disappointed so many times and there are so many factions in the House.

He pointed to Democrats who oppose a casino because they want an income tax instead, something Oldeman said would be harmful to the state.

“I don’t know what the outcome will be,” Oldeman said. “But every time it seems to get closer.”

Salem Selectman Stephen Campbell said casino supporters in town have lobbied lawmakers, including those in Salem, to gain passage.

“We’ve done everything we can,” Campbell said. “I don’t know if Salem can do any more.”

He pointed to the town’s referendum result from last year.

“That’s a pretty significant number of people,” he said. “The percentage was out of this world.”

Campbell said the opposition of some in the Legislature to casino gaming has struck him as odd, since there is already gambling in New Hampshire through the state lottery.

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