On Wednesday, House lawmakers will cast their votes on SB 152, a plan to allow a casino in our state. This proposal has overwhelming support of the public, as polls show two-thirds support gambling.
Both candidates for governor, Gov. Hassan and Ovide Lamontange, campaigned last fall in support of a casino plan. SB 152 received a bi-partisan 16-8 vote from the New Hampshire Senate earlier this year, the highest vote total ever from that body for gambling.
The plan creates a solid foundation for the gambling debate. A special committee of 45 House members set about the task of finding the best ways possible to build on this foundation and create a strong gambling proposal for fair consideration. The committee amendment addresses the concerns that were brought before the committee.
Over the course of many days of research, review and testimony, a number of us in the House crafted an amendment to improve SB 152.
Among the improvements:
Stronger and more timely regulations to be in place before the casino is licensed.
A casino application process that is fair to all prospective applicants.
Improved oversight and enforcement to protect against criminal activity, undue political influence and corruption.
Specific language to encourage the hiring of New Hampshire residents.
Enhanced protections for charitable gaming as well as existing entertainment venues.
We listened to the concerns of those who wanted a stronger proposal. We heard from our constituents who want to pass gambling, but only a plan that will ensure long-term revenues, minimal impacts, and strict regulations.
We crafted this improved plan with the full intention of offering it to the committee and we expected a majority would support our idea. Unfortunately, no vote was taken and the debate was prematurely cut short.
But we know the committee amendment is the right approach to take. This plan will be offered to the full House on Wednesday, and we believe our colleagues will recognize the improvements.